For The Collective: Carducci Reflects On PFA Canada Progress
Cavalry FC goalkeeper Marco Carducci is about as familiar with the Canadian Premier League as anyone can get: having spent the last four seasons as Cavalry FC’s starting goalkeeper, the two-time Golden Glove winner has also been heavily involved in his work with the prospective players’ union, too.
The 26-year-old goalkeeper has been on the PFA Canada board since its first election, stepping into the role of Vice President behind the union’s inaugural President, Marcel de Jong. The 36-year-old stepped down from this position this year, with Carducci replacing him as per the by-laws of the prospective players union.
“It’s been a seamless transition so far,” reflected Carducci in an open letter. “I worked closely with Marcel and we were pretty aligned with where we saw the future of the PFA heading, so I feel like I am in a good place to really hit the ground running.”
It has been nearly three years since PFA Canada unveiled itself following a 25% salary cut to CPL players during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the prospective union fighting for a voice at the table and more transparency when it came to league decisions.
New Canadian Premier League commissioner Mark Noonan has been vocal about the growing domestic league needing a relationship with labour, with Carducci recognizing that PFA Canada now is in a pivotal moment amidst the boon of a FIFA Men’s World Cup cycle with a fifth CPL season approaching and a FIFA Women’s World Cup-bound team having become Olympic champions, too.
“The professionalism of the game is growing at a rapid rate, and the PFA is developing alongside it, ensuring that our players get the right support every step of the way,” says Carducci.
“The ultimate objective is to ensure that our players’ voices are heard and that their needs are met. If I can look back on my time as President having realized that to some degree, I’ll view our work as a success.”
He’s happy to see so many footballers making the choice to earn their living in Canada, where the CPL has brought plenty of opportunity since establishing itself in 2019. The league’s salary cap will grow again next year, allowing for more sustainable opportunities for talent in the country – and, hope many, less players opting to leave or retire early due to financial circumstances.
Carducci hopes that in time, Canada’s own domestic footballing achievements can equal that of Major League Soccer, which has now established itself as quite an attractive league with good salaries, good quality of life, a collective bargaining agreement, and plenty of opportunities for players to secure moves to higher levels.
The Canadian Premier League just wrapped up a great year in terms of helping springboard athletes to higher levels, with the likes of Aribim Pepple going to Luton Town and both Victor Loturi and William Akio going to Ross County. There’s certainly eyes on the league and a growing global stock in its developmental qualities.
That being said, Carducci also recognizes that this progress will bring more politics – something Canadian Soccer circles have been chronically full of – and he believes that now that the union has established itself as a recognized tool for players, the next step is to secure collective bargaining rights.
That has always been the big goal in terms of the union’s Canadian Premier League scope, though PFA Canada hopes to represent more than this collective as well, picking up FIFPro membership last year and partnering with the CSPA.
“We do it for footballers in Canada – from the big names to the youth teams. That was our goal from the very beginning, and as President I help to ensure that it stays that way.”
Carducci is adamant that the organization wants to ensure that the Canadian football landscape progresses in a manner that serves the best interests of not just the sport’s financial investors, but all of the players involved in the process, too.
“Of course, you always have your eye on the big steps ahead, but it’s so important to recognize the little things as achievements in their own right,” adds Carducci. “Every time a player comes to us with an issue and we are able to offer our assistance in some way, it’s a reminder that we’re doing something right. In a couple of short years, we’ve established ourselves as someone to turn to, with a service that simply didn’t exist before. “
Carducci will hold his Presidential position within PFA Canada until the organization’s next election cycle in the spring, at which point he will be welcome to run for a full-term.
Interested readers can check out his full letter here.