“Disrespected” women’s national team players call out Canada Soccer leadership

Feb 10 2023, 11:51 pm

The players of the national women’s soccer team have had enough of Canada Soccer.

In a statement posted on Twitter through the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association — the organization representing the women’s national team — the players are asking for immediate change to funding amid budget cuts to the women’s program. If not funding, they’re demanding that new leadership be found.

The women’s world cup begins in July. Canada won’t play a home match before then.

The players’ statement also says the federation has cut training camp days, camp windows, the number of players and staff invited into camps, and significant funding for national youth teams.

“If Canada Soccer is not willing or able to support our team, new leadership should be found,” read the statement. “We are committed to do whatever it takes to create public awareness of this crisis and to force Canada Soccer to start to support the national teams properly.”

Among the cuts and lack of funding, the statement says that Canada Soccer has told the players that there will be no home matches ahead of the 2023 FIFA World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, a stark difference between the preparations for the men’s team in 2022.

“We have been told that there will be no home game for our team before the World Cup,” they said. “We have been told, quite literally, that Canada Soccer cannot adequately fund the Women’s National Team, and they have waited to tell us this until now when we are less than six months from the World Cup.”

Canada’s men’s national team has been embroiled in similar talks as well since they refused to play a pre-World Cup friendly against Panama in Vancouver, demanding a greater share of the prize money Canada Soccer would receive from the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Among the demands was equal pay for the women’s and men’s national teams.

“Now that our World Cup is approaching, the Women’s National Team players are being told to prepare to perform at a world-class level without the same level of support that the Men’s National Team received in 2022, “ the statement read.

“This is an unacceptable burden to put on the shoulders of our players, especially in the most crucial cycle for our team. We are left feeling frustrated and, once again, deeply disrespected by Canada Soccer.”

An hour after the women published their statement, the men’s national team players released their own on personal platforms, throwing their support behind the women’s national team.

“The Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team players are, once again, deeply disappointed by the actions of Canada Soccer, and wholeheartedly support the Women’s National Team players’ statement made this afternoon about completely unsatisfactory preparation conditions for this summer’s Women’s World Cup.,” their statement read.

“Since June 2022, Canada Soccer has consistently refused or blatantly ignored our Players Association’s requests for access to its financial records to back up its claims that it does not have the funds to properly operate Canada Soccer or fairly compensate the players.”

Among the factors posted by Canadian players were financial figures from Canada Soccer in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, the CSA spent CAD $3,088,906 on men’s programs, while $2,821,642 went toward the women.

In the Tokyo 2020 Olympic year of 2021, when Canada won Olympic gold in women’s soccer, the men’s national team received $11,029,759 — more than twice as much as the women’s $5,096,519.

“The other right thing to do is make sure whatever we pay the men, we pay the women,” Canada Soccer President Nick Bontis said following the boycotted Panama match last June.

Neither the men’s team nor the women’s national team has agreed on a new collective bargaining deal with Canada Soccer.

As well, the federation named a new Chief Operating Officer earlier Friday, appointing another man, Mathieu Chamberland, to the position.

“We have been beyond successful as a program, and [us] players have given our all to this team,” said Canadian midfielder Desiree Scott. “We are simply asking for what we deserve! Enough is enough! It’s time!”

In 2019, Canada Soccer signed a lengthy contract through 2027 with a business named Canadian Soccer Business, which is controlled by owners of the Canadian Premier League, a domestic men’s professional league.

The nine-year contract with CSB includes handing over Canada Soccer media and marketing rights in exchange for a previously negotiated fee between $3 million-$4 million per year.

The men’s national team says that the Canada Soccer-CSB deal was “never properly approved and that despite having an opportunity to annul or terminate the agreement when its terms were breached by CSB, Canada Soccer did not do so.”

Both the men’s and women’s national teams have also pushed back at Canada Soccer’s “unlawful use” of national team player names, images and likenesses for commercial purposes without player consent or compensation.

The men’s statement called the Canadian Premier League a “for-profit minor professional league.”

Canada’s women’s national team is set to kick off their World Cup against Nigeria in July but is currently just six days away from beginning the SheBeleives Cup in Orlando, where they’ll face the United States, Brazil and Japan over the next two weeks.

The U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Women’s National Team agreed to equal pay for the men’s and women’s teams in 2022 after a lengthy lawsuit.

“Canada Soccer must live up to its public commitment to gender equity and its obligation as the national governing body for soccer in Canada to advance the sport, not drag it down,” the women’s players said.

“We expect and deserve nothing less than to be treated equally and fairly and to have our program.”

Ben SteinerBen Steiner

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