Canadian women’s national team goes on STRIKE over Canada Soccer’s issues with pay equity

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Canadian women’s national team players announced they are going on strike, just six days before the team is set to take part in a four-team tournament in the United States. 

Players said that Canada Soccer, the sport’s governing body in the country, informed the team of significant program cuts for this year – with the team set to play in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this July and August.

According to a statement from the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association – the union representing the CWNT – they’ve been forced to cut ‘full camp windows, cut the number of players and staff invited into camps, significantly limit the already limited youth team’s activities, all while we continue to face immense uncertainty about compensation.’

‘Canada’s national teams have never been more successful, or attracting more corporate dollars,’ the statement added. ‘Yet despite these steps forward, we are still stuck asking the same question… where is the funding?’

The statement continued: ‘We, the Women’s National Soccer Team players, are demanding immediate change. 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. 

‘We expect and deserve nothing less than to be treated equally and fairly and to have our program – and our World Cup preparations – funded appropriately. If Canada Soccer is not willing or able to support our team, new leadership should be found.’

Canadian women’s national team goes on STRIKE over Canada Soccer’s issues with pay equity

Canada’s women’s soccer team is on strike over ‘under funding and lack of gender equity’

Christine Sinclair (R) said some members of the team trained 'with our shirts inside out'

Christine Sinclair (R) said some members of the team trained ‘with our shirts inside out’

Speaking to TSN reporter Rick Westhead, the reigning Olympic gold medalists said the team will not be training or preparing for the SheBelieves Cup – even as the team are in Orlando with matches days away.

Christine Sinclair – Canada’s captain and the greatest international goal scorer in football history – said that the team intends to take job action.

‘We arrived into camp three days ago. We’ve trained the past two days. Some of us trained today with our shirts inside out,’ Sinclair revealed.

‘But the fact that we haven’t heard from [Canada Soccer] since we put in our demands, they haven’t even had the courtesy to reach out to us to schedule an emergency call, anything like that. 

‘As a team, we’ve decided to take job action and from this moment on, will not be participating in any Canadian Soccer Association activities until this is resolved. 

‘So whether that’s training, whether that’s games. That’s very hard to say as an athlete who wants to compete.’

Westhead tweeted that Canada’s Women’s National Team only has 20 players in their camp down in Orlando, which isn’t enough for them to do 11-on-11 practices. The team had 28 players in their final camp before the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

He also detailed that pay equity disparity, with flights being an example: ‘All MNT players are booked to fly [business] class for upcoming Concacaf Nations League. WNT player Janine Beckie flew Manchester to Vancouver for a Team Canada game vs Nigeria last April and paid $1,200 out of pocket to upgrade from premium economy.’ 

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The women’s team gained support from the men’s national team, with multiple World Cup players – including Celtic defender Alastair Johnston – tweeting out a statement from their own players association in solidarity. 

This statement read in part: ‘The men’s and women’s National Team Players Associations have diligently worked together to convince Canada Soccer to provide reasonable and equal compensation and working conditions. 

‘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, and demands that it explain what has happened to millions of dollars that it should be receiving each year from sponsors and other sources.

Canada's men's national team is backing the women's team in their fight against the CSA

Canada’s men’s national team is backing the women’s team in their fight against the CSA

‘Most recently, without first discussing the issue with either of the National Teams, Canada Soccer decided to substantially cut the budgets for both programs and the associated youth National Teams.

‘How Canada Soccer is allocating or using funds is unclear and cloaked in secrecy… Canada Soccer’s principal revenue streams have been in large part diverted to Canada Soccer Business to the benefit of the owners of for-profit minor league professional soccer teams.

‘We are at a pivotal moment in time for soccer in Canada. This is a once-in-a-generation, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow the sport in Canada, and the current leadership of Canada Soccer is putting that opportunity at risk. 

‘If the current leadership of Canada Soccer is not willing to take immediate action to respond to the players’ demands and concerns, we ask that the Minister of Sport, the Honourable Pascale St-Onge intervene to remove them, and mandate that new Canada Soccer leadership be named and required to comply with its mandated objectives and all legal requirements, as supported by federal funding.’

Players have called out Canada Soccer for their lack of funding youth teams in the past

Players have called out Canada Soccer for their lack of funding youth teams in the past

The men’s statement references ‘Canada Soccer Business’ – which is a group controlled by owners of teams in the five-year-old Canadian Premier League.

While the CPL exists as the top division in the Canadian soccer pyramid, it does not host the country’s most prestigious teams. Toronto FC, CF Montreal, and Vancouver Whitecaps all compete at a higher level as members of MLS. 

Reporting from Westhead says that there’s a deal in place to funnel funds away from Canada Soccer and its teams to CSB.

According to TSN sources, the federation is struggling with extensive cuts across both its men’s and women’s national teams.  

After the strike was announced, Canada Soccer released a statement saying they will be hosting an emergency meeting with the team on Saturday.

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‘Canada Soccer has a proven track record of supporting women’s soccer. Pay equity for our women’s national team is at the core of our ongoing player negotiations. Canada Soccer will not agree to any deal without it.

‘That is why, after months of negotiations with our women’s national team players and their legal counsel, Canada Soccer already issued a mutually-agreed to retroactive payment.

‘We have also previously informed our women’s national team that the “friends and family” program, granted to our men’s national team in Qatar, will be replicated for our women at the 2023 FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

‘This is real change in action, but there is more to do. To continue that important work, we need to have a collective bargaining agreement in place, to responsibly plan for the future. We presented an equity-based proposal to our national teams and their counsel several months ago, and we are still waiting for a definitive response to the terms of that proposal.

‘Canada Soccer and our legal counsel will be meeting with our women’s national team in Orlando tomorrow morning, as agreed to last Sunday, to continue our discussions. We want to get this resolved, for both of our national teams, and for soccer in Canada.’ 

Canada Soccer says they had a planned meeting with the women's national team

Canada Soccer says they had a planned meeting with the women’s national team

This is not the first time that members of Canada’s national teams have called out the governing body for failing to properly fund its teams.

In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Canadian men’s center back Kamal Miller said that youth development has been sorely lacking funding. 

‘I think what I want most from this World Cup other than to win… is to turn on the lights and turn on the emergency alarm at Canada Soccer and at these clubs at the youth level that our youth development system needs to be so much better,’ Miller said. 

Miller further added: ‘I think [Canada Soccer] need to do a better job at leveling the playing field for every kid have an equal opportunity.’ 

Statement from the Canada Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association 

February 10, 2023

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.

The men’s and women’s National Team Players Associations have diligently worked together to convince Canada Soccer to provide reasonable and equal compensation and working conditions. 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, and demands that it explain what has happened to millions of dollars that it should be receiving each year from sponsors and other sources. Most recently, without first discussing the issue with either of the National Teams, Canada Soccer decided to substantially cut the budgets for both programs and the associated youth National Teams.

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How Canada Soccer is allocating or using funds is unclear and cloaked in secrecy. Despite the funding from FIFA and substantially increased sponsor and fan interest following the Men’s National Team’s qualification for and participation in the 2022 World Cup, Canada Soccer’s principal revenue streams have been in large part diverted to Canada Soccer Business to the benefit of the owners of for-profit minor league professional soccer teams, as reported on extensively by Rick Westhead on July 12, 2022. It has been reported that the agreement was never properly approved, and that despite having an opportunity to annul or terminate the agreement when its terms were breached by Canada Soccer Business, Canada Soccer did not do so. The players continue to be confronted by this arrangement, which has included the use of National Team player names, images and likenesses for commercial purposes without player consent or compensation. This took place before, during, and after the World Cup, despite player demands to Canada Soccer that such activity must stop in the absence of an agreement with the players.

We now know that through this financial and other mismanagement, Canada Soccer is claiming it does not have the funds necessary to provide the Women’s National Team players the working conditions and games they need to prepare for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. That is outrageous and calls for an immediate and urgent response.

These developments come at a time when national and international excitement and support for the sport is at an all-time high. The Women’s National Team, the reigning Olympic champions, are preparing for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and Canada is preparing to co-host the Men’s World Cup in 2026. We are at a pivotal moment in time for soccer in Canada. This is a once-in-a-generation, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow the sport in Canada, and the current leadership of Canada Soccer is putting that opportunity at risk.

We, the players, are committed to doing our best for each other, the fans, and the future of soccer in Canada, and we demand that Canada Soccer fulfill its obligations as the governing body of soccer in Canada, stop the unlawful use of player names and likenesses, address the violations of proper governance, provide full disclosure and the transparency required of the national governing body of a major sport, deal with the Players Associations in good faith, and, most importantly, properly fund the men’s and women’s national teams and the youth teams that serve as the pipeline for continued success of the senior teams.

If the current leadership of Canada Soccer is not willing to take immediate action to respond to the players’ demands and concerns, we ask that the Minister of Sport, the Honourable Pascale St-Onge intervene to remove them, and mandate that new Canada Soccer leadership be named and required to comply with its mandated objectives and all legal requirements, as supported by federal funding.

Yours in sport,

The Players of the Men’s National Soccer Team



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