- Keith Hickey

A few days ago, this year's TFC head coach/techinical director/suicide watch subject Aron Winter decided that the media would no longer be given access to his team's locker room after matches, saying:
"I believe that (the dressing room) is a sacred place and a safe place for the players and that is why I have chosen not to open the locker room. I understand there may be an adjustment period with some journalists but it is an important change in keeping with my program of changing the culture of Toronto FC both on and off the field."
Because we all know that Toronto's problems are caused by an intrusive press and not constant rapid personnel turnover, poor senior management, and hyper-inflated expectation.

Then, before Winter had time to put his wooden shoes on and tiptoe through his now journalist-free tulips, THE DON decided he wasn't having any of that ish, and laid down the rules. For those keeping score at home, here are excerpts of the pertinent rules that Winter was planning to break.
MLS requires that the Team dressing rooms must be opened to the media no later than 10 minutes after a game (referred to as "cooling down" period)

A Head Coach may keep the locker room closed to the media for the purpose of a post-Game Team meeting for no more than TEN (10) minutes from the end of the Game (determined by the Referee's whistle). Teams will remain on site for a minimum of FORTY-FIVE (45) minutes after the conclusion of the Game for interview purposes. Violations of this policy may result in fines to the offending party.
With his attempted stunt, Winter probably ticked off  more than a few soccer journalists in Toronto and across the continent. It also makes him look petty and weak, trying to exert control he doesn't have.

I've covered soccer in both the traditional North American style and in the fashion adhered to by European soccer clubs. In ours, we go into the locker room, where the players are relaxing, sometimes have just finished showers, and are interacting with each other. You have time to find every player you want to talk to, and for the most part, they're happy to chat, joke around, and give you a few quotes. For some odd reason, readers prefer to hear the opinions of players more than those of sportswriters. It's useful, either as support for an argument, or interesting filler for journalists on a deadline, and occasionally, one of them says something interesting enough to write a story around. Once you finish, you go back to the press box and type up your story.

I've also covered Manchester United, when they were on tour here last summer. We waited around in a "mixed zone" for the Man U players to cool down, shower, dress and come out. A few were obligated to speak to the TV broadcaster, and the Man U PR people directed a few of the players over to British journalists. For the most part, they ignored you, and you had to crowd around the TV people and hope they decided to ask the question you wanted answered. And you had better hope that two players you wanted to hear from didn't walk out at the same time, because they definitely weren't sticking around long. Or that a player you wanted didn't keep you waiting so he could have a massage and an extra-long shower and a chat with the assistant coach.

Part of that indifference was probably down to Manchester United players having journalists in their faces wherever they go, but I know which system I prefer.
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