Thursday, April 2, 2009

Harper and Hargreaves vs. Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper staged a photo opportunity on Wednesday morning with Owen Hargreaves, the Calgary-born soccer star who plays for Manchester United in the English Premier League.

“Owen Hargreaves is one of Canada’s most famous and accomplished international athletes,” Harper said in a release. “Given soccer’s massive worldwide appeal, it is certainly refreshing to note that one of the world’s brightest stars is Canadian. … Thank you, Owen, for all you have done to shine the international spotlight on Canadian soccer.”

Hargreaves, who left home as a teenager to pursue his soccer career in Europe, opted to play for England over Canada. The 28-year-old has won 42 caps for England and was a key player for the country at the 2006 World Cup.

He was eligible to play for England through family bloodlines.

This photo has sparked major debate about Hargreaves and Harper. A good Canadian from here in Vancouver and proud supporter of the Canadian National Team, Massimo Cusano, wrote the following:

I am appalled that Prime Minister Harper took the time to meet with Owen Hargreaves while in England. Owen Hargreaves is an opportunist that thought selfishly about his own career instead of his country. The fact that Mr. Harper recognized this man is disgraceful.

As an avid supporter of our Men's National Team, I find it very disheartening to watch those that represent this country struggle while arguably our most talented players, Owen Hargreaves, Jonathan De Guzman and Daniel Fernandes, play for England, Holland and Portugal respectively. All this despite the fact that they were all born, raised and trained in this country for the majority of their youth. It is my belief that if these players wore the red and white of Canada, we would be celebrating a World Cup appearance in South Africa in 2010 regardless of CSA incompetence.

The story behind Mr. Hargreaves goes much deeper however. You incorrectly state that 'Canada only noticed him once he was gone'. In fact, Hargreaves unsuccessfully tried out for Canada's U17 national team. People may look at this as justification for his decision, however I strongly disagree. Owen was an underage player at the time and we all know the difference one year of development can make at that age group. During his time at Bayern Munich, he was approached by then Canadian manager Holger Osieck. Owen even appeared on a Sportsnet television interview saying that he was willing to represent Canada. But then came wind that England may be interested and Mr. Hargreaves became much more evasive. Being eligible to represent one of three countries (Canada, England or Wales) he meticulously calculated which decision would offer him the most personal gain, ultimately choosing England. In the end, he defended his choice by saying that he always felt more British than Canadian anyways. If this was the case, why did he participate in a Canadian youth team camp in the first place? He is a first-class hypocrite, not a first-class Canadian.

I have an enormous amount of respect for players like George Weah and Ryan Giggs; players that chose to represent their country knowing that they may never have the opportunity to play in the World Cup. That requires sacrifice. That is honourable. Unfortunately, Owen does not seem to possess those characteristics.

I have called to schedule an appointment with my MP to personally convey my astonishment, dismay and outrage at Mr. Harper's photo opportunity. I have voted for Mr. Harper's party in the last 2 elections. Unless he issues an apology admitting that his meeting with and acknowledgement of Mr. Hargreaves was indeed a mistake, he will not see my vote again. Many may consider this childish. How could such a trivial issue determine my future vote? But to call this issue trivial is to miss the bigger picture. With one simple photo, our Prime Minister has diminished the actions of all those that have represented this country, our country. We have soldiers in Afghanistan that are willing to pay the ultimate price for Canada; Owen Hargreaves did not represent Canada because he was not ready to sacrifice the size of his pocket book.

Warmest regards,
Massimo Cusano

Mike Martignago and Tyler Green will share their thoughts on the show on Sunday night. Full-Time is on at midnight, following the Canucks v Colorado game on the TEAM 1040.


Andrew said...

I fully agree with Massimo, Owen is a turncoat TRAITOR!

Supermac said...

Hargreaves is no traitor !!!
His decision to play for England exposed him as one of the best holding midfielders in the world. This then led to his move to Man. Utd and a lucrative contract. He is a professional athlete and deserves the right to make decisions that are best for his career.
The Canadain Soccer Association is run by a bunch of amateurs who know little about the game. Even the players who do play for Canada are often heard critisizing the association for the way they runs things.
If all goes well, Hargreaves will compete in his third World Cup next year. He has already won the Champions League twice with two different teams. Hopefully next year he will get his hand on the ultimate prize for any soccer player. As a proud Canadian I am very proud of Hargreaves accomplishments.

Nicholas Brand said...

I am absolutely flabbergasted by the Hargreaves bashing after this photo. As a Canadian I am extremely proud of Owen. The CSA is a complete joke, to the point where prominent soccer writers (Ben Knight) are openly calling for the soccer fans in this country to overthrow the organization.

Do we honestly expect Owen to turn down an opportunity to play with one of the great soccer powers to play for a country that can keep a coach for more than 6 months (mostly because they insist on paying them with sand dollars). And comparing Owens to Giggs? Is Massimo really comparing Wales to Canada? Wales can at least make it out of the pre pre pre qualifying tournament.

The state of our National team is not the fault of players who choose a path that will make them better players and yes further their career. No, the blame rests solely on the CSA. Perhaps if they could get their heads out of their you know whats, our top talent wouldn't look at playing for Canada as possible career suicide.

Chris Endersby said...

Agree, the sport will never grow if all out best players leave to play for other countries, it gives kids the idea that they should not play for Canada and play for there parents background country because they are better. If i was as skilled as him I would want to play for Canada even if there are yahoos that run team Canada so younger kids could have a role model and would want to play for Canada

Anonymous said...

Owen made a decision that was best for him. Which is fine a it is a business.
But is that what a true Canadian would do for the benefit of the sport in his Country.
He is British as he plays for England, He gave up his right to be acclaimed as Canadian they day he chose to play for England. This photo op was more for Harper to say he stood beside a very good soccer player that used to play in Canada. Harper people should have advised him to get the autograph at personal photo session. I have not seen any comments by Harper. It seems he is proud Owen chose England over Canada.
It is great to see these ex-Canadians playing at high level soccer. It means we have some ability to train good players but we need to keep them. In the end Owen made a samrt move. Harper made a dumb move

Anonymous said...

The chance to play in the world cup is a huge opportunity for any soccer player. That kind of exposure can dramatically impact their professional direction. We all get to see how the succeed or fail playing at the very highest level.

Regardless if that was his reason for playing for the UK, it was the right choice for him professionally.

Anonymous said...

Came across this post...would you bashers check the facts?? Hargreaves was cut/not invited to play for Canada at 16, even though in the same year he signed with Bayern. This is the failure of the CSA not Owen. The CSA is a joke!!

Buy Viagra online said...

This is a privilege taking a photo with that talented football soccer man, I'm a young woman and I'm in love with him, I'd wish taking a photo with him, what a lucky man..

Anonymous said...

I read and interview where Owen said he as born in Canada, his Parents are English and was brought up in an English home in Canada and his parents didnt want him to be born in Canada. He considers himself to be "English" Can you believe it. He actually said and I quote!!!! "I am a foreighner in my own home" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It doesn't get more discusting than that! Owen Hargreaves is the biggest PUKE ever. England can have him. At least he'll be with his "own" kind. A real Canadian would never say such things. Only the English could be such asses. LOL Harper you are such a nerd. LOL