Canada’s Olympic champion women’s team makes sure its voice is heard in the battle with Canada Soccer

This past Sunday, more than 20,000 fans were preparing to gather at Vancouver’s BC Place to watch the Canadian men’s soccer team (CANMNT) play against Panama in an international friendly.

But the players did not leave the field of play and the game was canceled a few hours before the whistle. Because? Because of a contractual dispute. The players, as reported for the first time by Rick Westhead of TSN, published a letter explaining their position.

They had questions and concerns about their own salary and FIFA’s pay to qualify for the World Cup – about $ 10 million. According to the letter, players are asking for 40 percent of the money as well as compensation for their families to attend the Qatar tournament later this year.

Since July last year, Canada’s women’s and men’s national teams have climbed to the top of an Olympic podium and finished first in the World Cup qualifiers, respectively. The men’s team has qualified for this year’s Men’s World Cup, something that has not been achieved since 1986. The momentum is booming and the spirits of the fans are strong.

Thanks to the continued success of the women’s team, Canada has always been a nation of football and only male performance has reaffirmed it. But while the excitement between players and fans is palpable, there have been a number of missteps at the hands of Canada Soccer executives.

Last week, a scheduled match between CANMNT and Iran was later canceled public outcry, including a reprimand from the Prime Minister. While the opportunity to play against a top-tier FIFA team made sense from a perspective of pure competition, the social implications of playing for Iran are unfavorable. Two years ago, a passenger plane was shot down by Iranian forces and killed 176 people on board, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents. The fact that Canada Soccer has not been able to identify the opponent as a potential problem raises questions about leadership. Our athletes deserve better.

That the men’s contract was not settled a few months before the World Cup is not good either.

In their letter, the players said they had been “disrespected” and said that their relationship with their employer “has been strained for years”. The language used is intentional and important to keep in mind.

They also asked questions about the transparency of Canada Soccer’s finances, including an agreement it made with the Canadian football business (CSB) Players claim “shackles” from the organization.

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The truth is that this is not the first time that one of Canada’s national teams has questions about contracts or payments. The Canadian Women’s National Team (CANWNT) has been negotiating her contract since January. They have their own World Cup qualifying matches starting in July and, as defending Olympic gold medalists, they are expected to perform well.

But CANWNT has told us before and warned us that Canada Soccer does not live up to its standards and needs. Diana Matheson, a former team captain now retired, has spoken very publicly about how the organization needs to step up and create better income opportunities and financial support for the women’s team.

After winning gold in Tokyo, team stars Christine Sinclair and Steph Labbé went to CBC to talk about the need for national leagues and support for women’s soccer in Canada.

Although the CANMNT did call for an “equitable structure” with the women’s team, the CANWNT players responded with their own letter to clarify some of their problems. It is unclear whether the CANMNT consulted the women’s team before issuing its statement, but the inclusion and recognition of the women’s team is important. It’s certainly not something Canadian football has seen before: the men’s team giving such public support to women.

Statement by the players of the Canadian Women’s National Team:

– @Canadian Players

CANWNT wants not only FIFA percentages to be equal to men, but also real wages, benefits and social media. They have also been public defenders of the survivors of the abuses at the hands of the federation. I broke that story October 2021.

The U.S. women’s national team recently won a lawsuit that resulted in a historic contract negotiation. The key to that victory was Cindy Parlow Cone, a former USWNT player and current president of the United States Football Federation, and perhaps that is the kind of leader needed for Canada Soccer. Someone who understands the needs of the players and the culture of the teams. A leader who can communicate and is intentional with his actions. Perhaps the old ones in the boardroom are not what is needed for the elite teams that have brought Canadian football to the world stage in an unprecedented way.

There are some issues at stake with the Canadian federation, including a bitter relationship with the sports media, whose job is to ask questions and create some public accountability. I spoke to colleagues who attended a press conference after the cancellation of Sunday’s match. Canada Soccer President Nick Bontis was flanked by Earl Cochrane, the Deputy Secretary General. Bontis defended the CSB deal, but also abruptly stopped the press conference and did not answer questions. It left many with the impression that Canada Soccer is over.

If leaders can’t live up to the opportunity and defend and have good relationships with the players they represent, some of whom are the best players in the world, what good are they for playing football in Canada? If they can’t take full advantage of the marketing of their teams to fund football in Canada, what good are they? The responsibility for amplifying and supporting women’s football lies with the national federation. It is your responsibility to ensure that parties do not cancel or that protests do not take place.

Late Sunday night, Canada Soccer and the men’s players agreed on a temporary solution and the men’s team resumed training and will play next Thursday scheduled against Curacao in BC But the fact that we are less than six months away of a World Cup. and witnessing disputes over avoidable issues is not building faith in leadership.

Canada Football Update

– @CanadaSoccerEN

Between fostering distrust on the part of men and the lack of action of the executive board, one may wonder how effective they are and their leadership not only in keeping things smooth, but in implementing a vision. of football in Canada.

If Soccer Canada comes to an agreement with the players, this is a step forward after taking five steps back. It can’t work that way and maintain a respectful status and a dignified reputation in the global game.

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