"Disrespected" Canadian men's soccer players explain why they're refusing to play

Jun 5 2022, 9:40 pm

If it wasn’t clear already, a divide exists between the organizing body of Canada Soccer and its men’s national team players.

Due to a contract dispute between Canada Soccer and its men’s national team players, today’s planned friendly match with Panama has been called off less than three hours before the match was due to kick off at BC Place.

Canadian players had chosen to refrain from training the past two days while aiming to negotiate a new contract ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and are currently on strike.

In an open letter, Canadian soccer players say they’ve been “disrespected” by their national federation.

The players described their disliking for a 2018 agreement with Canadian Soccer Business, including a 10-year agreement for broadcast and partnership rights for the men’s and women’s national teams.

“Why have Canada Soccer given up autonomy of the greatest opportunity to grow our program in years?” the players asked. “We want to work together with our organization, but the relationship has been strained for years. And now, Canada Soccer has disrespected our team and jeopardized our efforts to raise the standards and effectively advance the game in Canada.”

Canada Soccer’s first official statement came less than two hours prior to the planned kickoff time for the men’s national team match against Panama.

The full unedited text of the letter is below, from the players of the team, via TSN’s Rick Westhead:

Dear Canada,

Four years ago, we set out on a mission to leave our program in a better place than we found it. At the time, it had been over 30 years since our nation was represented at the FIFA Men’s World Cup. Aside from our collective childhood dreams of playing at a World Cup. We hoped that qualifying this team would bring a level of respect and financial opportunity that could raise the standards & opportunities for the next generation of players in our country and change the trajectory of soccer in Canada forever.

Despite the unprecedented success of both the Women’s and Men’s National teams in 2021/22, we have seen no changes. Where is the progression? Where is the money?

We have recently learned that in 2018, Canada Soccer signed an agreement with Canadian Soccer Business that has completely compromised their ability to leverage the on-field success of our senior national teams. To have any chance of creating substantial, lasting change for all Canada Soccer programs, we need the terms of this agreement to be disclosed and corrected. We want to know who signed this deal that has hand cuffed our association. Why have Canada Soccer given up autonomy of the greatest opportunity to grow our program in years?

We want to work together with our organization, but the relationship has been strained for years. And now, Canada soccer has disrespected our team and jeopardized our efforts to raise the standards and effectively advance the game in Canada.

In March, we initiated contract discussions with Canada Soccer. Due to executives delaying the process and taking vacations, the negotiation process was unnecessarily prolonged. Canada Soccer waited until the evening of June 2nd to present an archaic offer and the general secretary & president of the association only made themselves available for the first time to connect with the players on June 4th at 4:00pm.

For these masons, we have reluctantly decided not to play our match today against Panama. It’s time we take a stand for the future of soccer in Canada. Going forward, we need…

Transparency and a review of the Canadian Soccer Business Agreement.

• A leadership team that can optimize this moment and generate revenue from corporate sponsorship that should be used to drive the game forward at all levels for years to come (grassroots, youth, para & senior programs).

• An equitable structure with our women’s national team that shares the same player match fees, percentage of prize money earned at our respective FIFA World Cups and the development of a women’s domestic league.

• World Cup compensation that includes 40% of prize money and a comprehensive friends and family package for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

• More former players from the men’s, women’s and para team integrated into leadership positions within Canada Soccer Board & Organization

These are the fundamental elements we will stand on guard for, to shift soccer in our country.

We want to apologize to our fans. Playing at home with your support, is everything to us. We hope Canada Soccer will take decisive steps to work with our team so we can be back on the field for our match on June 9.

We also want to apologize to Panama’s players, fans, staff, and association. It’s a great privilege and responsibility to represent and play for our country.  We stand on guard for you, for us and for generations to come.

The Canadian Men’s National team

We are Brothers. We Fear Nothing. We Stand on Guard.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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