OTTAWA — The Ottawa Fury FC has confirmed it will not take to the pitch in 2020.
In a lengthy statement from the club, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group CEO Mark Goudie blamed behind-the-scenes politics for the suspension.
“I feel angry, betrayed and deeply sorry for our fans, players, coaches and staff that their club will not operate in 2020,” Goudie said. “I believe we were purposely run out of time.”
The club says its issues first arose in 2018, when the Canadian Premier League was launched. The Fury wanted to remain in the United Soccer League, the largest division II league in the world, and the league to which the team had moved in 2017 after debuting in the North American Soccer League in 2014.
The Fury required sanctioning from Canada Soccer, U.S. Soccer, and The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) in order to play in the U.S.
The team says it had to petition the Court for Arbitration and Sport in Switzerland in order to be sanctioned to play in the USL in 2019 but, just before the court hearing was set to begin, CONCACAF withdrew its objection to the Fury playing in the USL.
However, the club says delays by Canada Soccer to submit requests to sanction the team to play in the USL in 2020 led to the ultimate result of having to suspend its operations. The Fury wanted a multi-year sanction, but was given just a one-year sanction from Canada Soccer, but not U.S. Soccer or CONCACAF.
"Despite an extended deadline of November 1st for the Fury to be included in the 2020 USL schedule, a deadline that Canada Soccer was aware of, Canada Soccer waited until late September before forwarding the Fury submission to the US Soccer Federation and CONCACAF," the statement said. "To date, despite repeated enquires from the Fury to Canada Soccer and inquiries from the USL to CONCACAF and US Soccer, no sanctioning has been provided."
The team says it's sorry to the players, coaches, staff, and fans.
“I think it’s apparent that soccer’s hierarchy is trying to force Fury FC out of the USL,” said Goudie. “The governing bodies do not respect the investment that we have made in Canadian soccer, our contribution to the development of soccer in Canada or the value of our USL franchise. The USL has been very supportive and has vigorously lobbied the US Soccer Federation and CONCACAF on our behalf, but match and TV schedules must be set, venues booked, coaches hired, players signed and tickets sold. I believe they intentionally ran us out of time.”
OSEG will now explore further options for the future of the Ottawa Fury FC, which could include relocation to the U.S.