The Canada Soccer governing body has announced the appointment of former Golf Canada chief sport officer Kevin Blue as its new chief executive and general secretary.

Blue replaces outgoing chief executive Alyson Walker, who stepped down in January this year due to personal circumstances – having only been appointed to the role the previous December, she had not yet officially started in the post.

Korn Ferry, the same consulting firm that Canada Soccer utilized to appoint Walker, was used in Kevin Blue’s appointment process.

Blue joins Canada soccer from the Golf Canada governing body, where he has served as chief sport officer since December 2020. He had also previously served as director of athletics at both the University of California (2016-2020) and Stanford University (2013-2016).

Charmaine Crooks, president at Canada Soccer, stated of Blue’s arrival: “In Kevin, we have a transformational and results-oriented leader on our team to help guide us towards a more positive future for soccer in Canada and to capture the incredible opportunities ahead.”

The consecutive appointments of Walker and Blue come in the wake of the April 2023 departure of Earl Cochrane, who stepped down amid a major dispute that Canada Soccer is embroiled in over its relationship with media and marketing rights body Canadian Soccer Business (CSB).  

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In February, the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association (CSPA) labor union representing players on the women’s national team filed a $40 million lawsuit against current and former Canada Soccer board members over a media and sponsorship contract signed in 2018 with CSB.

Canada Soccer does not hold an ownership stake in CSB but is paid a set amount each year, around $3 million to $4 million, with the rest used by CSB to help fund the top-tier Canadian Premier League.

The lawsuit says that the yearly fee increased “only slightly over the initial nine years of the CSB agreement and not at all during the 10-year renewal period” while “all other revenue generated by CSB in respect of the national teams is retained by CSB.”

It also alleges that the board failed to canvas the market for competing bids, failed to conduct appropriate diligence concerning the fair market value of Canada Soccer’s media and sponsorship rights, and failed to make adequate disclosures to the membership of Canada Soccer.

Blue stated of his appointment amid the furor: “Rebuilding trust in Canada Soccer and ensuring that the association is healthy – competitively, financially, and operationally – is critical if Canada is to take advantage of its upcoming opportunities domestically and on the world’s biggest stages.”

Canada is one of three host nations for the 2026 edition of soccer’s showpiece FIFA World Cup event, with the Canadian cities of Vancouver and Toronto set to host six and seven games each respectively, including all home matches for the Canada men’s national team (who qualified automatically).