Canada’s internationals are preparing for the SheBelieves Cup. The invitational tournament marks for them the beginning of the year of the World Cup: Thursday, they will face the American world champions in Orlando, then Brazil and Japan. All difficult opponents, ideal to find out what is still missing. However, they cannot focus entirely on sport – the dispute between them and the Canadian Football Association over cuts and an alleged lack of support has escalated.
The 2020 Olympic champions released a statement on Friday saying the national team was outraged and deeply concerned by the significant cuts announced months before the World Cup, which takes place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20. . They boycotted practices and meetings on Saturday.
“From now on, we will not participate in any activity until everything is settled – be it training, be it games. Enough is enough,” captain Christine Sinclair told The Sports Network (TSN) of Canada. In the letter, the players announced that they were ready to “do whatever is necessary to raise awareness of this crisis and compel Canada Soccer to provide appropriate support to national teams”. So for the time being they have gone on strike, like the national players of Australia, Denmark and Spain in the past.
“We are tired of constantly fighting for fair and equal treatment,” the players wrote.
The Canadian federation defended itself, pay equity is at the center of the negotiations, without which Canada Soccer will not accept any agreement. Thus, after months of talks, “a retroactive amicable settlement has already been arranged”. A collective agreement is necessary to plan the future responsibly. As in the United States, the players are represented by two different unions, both of which are currently negotiating a new contract, which also involves wage alignment. Months ago, the two national teams received a “justice-based proposal”, the association said, “we are still awaiting a definitive response to the conditions”.
The proposal, however, does not seem to Sinclair and his colleagues to go far enough. The 39-year-old national record player in her country (319 games) and top scorer of all national teams (190 goals) even told TSN that the association had paused the remuneration package and wanted to restructure its offer: ” You just lied in your statement, and now he’s going to lie to the public. That’s how they work.” The men’s team supports the women’s position and also released a statement. In the summer of 2022, he himself went on strike in a dispute over prize money negotiations for the World Cup in Qatar – also five months before the tournament started – and was now “deeply disappointed” . How Canada Soccer allocates or uses funds is unclear and secretive, and requests have been denied or ignored.
Internationals complain World Cup preparations are being jeopardized “by Canada Soccer’s continued inability to support its national teams”. The association has reduced the scope of training camps, reduced the number of participating players and employees and further restricted the actions taken by youth teams. In addition, there is great uncertainty about remuneration. More than a year had been negotiated: “We are tired of having to fight for fair and equal treatment”. Women are told that there is not enough money for adequate funding. Football is so popular in Canada and the national teams – also financially – are more successful than ever.
The strike is over, but the conflict is far from over
To emphasize your point, Sinclair, for example, posted a financial overview of the Canadian Soccer Association on Twitter. While around eleven million Canadian dollars (7.7 million euros) was spent on men in 2021, it was 5.1 million (3.5) for women. The figures for last year are not yet known. Speaking on TSN, Sinclair noted that it would be difficult to negotiate unless it was clear what had been raised for the men ahead of the 2022 World Cup. “We are once again treated with a deep lack of respect by Canada Soccer,” the internationals said in a statement. The fact that a peak performance is expected at the 2023 World Cup, despite not having received the same support, is “an unacceptable burden”.
Nevertheless, the strike ended after only one day. The two sides sat down for an emergency meeting on Saturday, association officials with representatives from the Canadian Soccer Players Association union. National actors said the concerns had been discussed in detail. However, if they did not compete against the United States, the association threatened them with consequences before the meeting. Not only “legal action would be taken to force us back on the field, but measures would also be considered to possibly demand millions in damages” from the union and the current team: “We cannot not take that risk,” the players said. . The association responded that it respects the right to organizebut a strike is not legal under Ontario labor law.
“To be clear,” Christine Sinclair wrote on Twitter, “We will be forced to get back to work at short notice. This is not over. We will continue to fight for all we deserve and we will win.” Their anger towards the association will only grow, even if Canada Soccer wants to respond to the demands and recognizes: “There is still a lot to do.
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