Interview with the new president of Soccer Québec | “There must be room for everyone”

“A soccer ball in every home would be my absolute dream. » This is the wish of the new president of Soccer Québec, Felicia Schiro.

The largest sports federation in Quebec announced this appointment last Tuesday. THURSDAY, The Press spoke for around thirty minutes with the woman who had, in a way, served as interim president of the board of directors since the resignation of Pari Arshagouni last fall.

During the interview, the governance of the federation was discussed. Of its recent transparency issues. From the search for the next candidate for general management. The balance to be found between the development of elite players and the accessibility of soccer.

Mme Schiro also launched some germinating ideas at Soccer Québec (SQ) regarding the possibilities of bringing the 2026 World Cup to life here, in the province, despite the absence of matches. Could Quebec become a host land, the base camp for one or more teams participating in the high mass of world football?

Finding a CEO and “stability”

We will come back to this. Because in any case, there are much more urgent matters to resolve at the federation, the general management remaining the file at the top of the pile.

Remember that Arshagouni, after his resignation as president, was quickly elected to the post of DG after a botched process last October. Four months later, in February, Soccer Quebec finally decided to cut its ties with Arshagouni. Philippe Bernard, CEO of the Quebec Regional Soccer Association, has held the interim position at SQ since then, ensuring a mandate of 30 to 90 days.

Felicia Schiro has been a volunteer at several levels in Quebec soccer since 2005. Today, she says she wants to make “good practices in governance” her “workhorse”, in addition to putting an end to conjectures about the transparency of the Federation. Thus, the latter will be supported in the hiring process by the firm Octave Maecenas, specialized in executive recruitment. The position should be posted next week, Schiro says.

It’s a cliché, but you have to make sure you take the time to find the right person. (The next CEO) will help the entire federation find stability which, I think, is necessary and deserved.

Felicia Schiro, president of Soccer Québec

The appointment could be made after the 90 days of Mr. Bernard’s mandate, which should end around the end of May, she explains, in order to “remain flexible and adapt accordingly”. And so that the federation is not forced to “make a decision that should not be made” at this time.

It is pointed out to Felicia Schiro that in view of the events of recent months, her own nomination to the presidency was made quickly. Especially since during his last interview with The Press, on March 6, she said that it was too early to announce her intentions to officially become president. Three weeks later, we have to admit that things have moved quickly, right?

“According to the general regulations, the CA has the right to fill any vacant position within the CA,” she explains.

Basically, to remain compliant with its rules, the board of directors had until 1er April to appoint someone as president. Otherwise, since this position was theoretically not up for election for the 2024 general meetings, the presidency would have remained vacant until 2025.

“The closer we are to our members, the more answers they have”

It was also necessary to act quickly, because for several months now the federation has been mired in its governance issues. To the detriment of other issues, such as those on which the Board chaired by Felicia Schiro now wishes to look into.

In this case, the “accessibility” of soccer as well as the “retention” of players, referees and staff.

“Whoever says accessibility must talk about costs,” she says. Everything increases in life. How will Soccer Québec, by working with its regions, make the sport accessible for parents, for a young person who wants to play soccer? »

Hence the idea of ​​the soccer ball in every cottage in the province. Felicia Schiro would like “when (families) decide to choose a sport or leisure activity, (they) think about soccer.”

On this subject, we informed him of certain echoes transmitted to The Press by readers and parents, who notably report tournaments that are sometimes very expensive.

Part of the solution involves communication on both sides, believes Mme Schiro.

“We will have to involve the clubs (by encouraging them) to inform their members, to know why we are holding a tournament. Is it for fun? Does this tournament cost more perhaps because there is recruitment, scouts who will be there?

“I would invite parents to speak with their club. We, the soccer community, are very accessible. I can say this, because I have worked on several levels as a volunteer. The closer we are to our members, the more answers they have. »

She also believes that with the club recognition program put in place by Canada Soccer, which aims to “give a structure to develop the sport here”, the search for a “balance” is necessary.

“There must be room for everyone”, both for the development of the elite and for the mass of players.

No World Cup in Montreal: “yes, it’s disappointing”

We said it: it has now been almost 20 years since Felicia Schiro has been involved voluntarily in soccer in Quebec. “The president of the first club I volunteered with said to me, ‘Felicia, you know when you’re coming in, but you never know when you’re going to leave!’ “, she says, smiling. By becoming president of Soccer Québec, Schiro became the first woman to hold this position in the organization’s history. “It’s quite a privilege. I am truly honored to be able to sit in this position. (…) But the work has only just begun. »

And how ! The next two years between now and the 2026 World Cup, jointly hosted by Canada, the United States and Mexico, promise to be busy for soccer. “In Quebec, we don’t receive any matches,” she recalls. Yes, it’s disappointing, I won’t say the opposite. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything. » And to “put Quebec on the map”, she would like to attract one or more teams participating in the World Cup to come and set up their base camp here. “We have beautiful grounds that we can offer to certain teams,” says Mme Schiro.

Quite simply, like that, she is talking about an already existing partnership between Soccer Quebec and the French team. ” Why not ? » The only world-class infrastructure that can potentially accommodate such a selection that comes to mind is the CF Montréal Nutrilait Center. “CF Montréal is a strong partner,” replies the president of SQ. It is certain that as soon as we have the opportunity to collaborate with them, we will do so. This will be among the first calls we will make. »

The federation would also like to organize viewing parties across the province, particularly for Canadian team matches. “Everyone (at SQ) has ideas. It’s going to be about taking them, putting them together, creating working groups, doing volunteer hours. When we talk about the World Cup and the national team, there is a pride that ensures that whether we volunteer or not, we are there and we are ready. »


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