Canada Soccer and the women’s national team have agreed to an interim funding deal that is retroactive to last year after players threatened to boycott the team’s activities at last month’s SheBelieves Cup tournament.
The two sides issued a joint statement Thursday saying the terms of the deal include “per-game incentives and performance-based compensation” similar to an agreement with the men’s team. The federation is still negotiating a collective agreement with both.
“It’s about respect, it’s about dignity and it’s about equalizing the competitive environment in a world that is fundamentally unequal,” Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane said in a statement. “We have been consistent and public about the need for fairness and equal pay to be the cornerstones of any new agreement with our players, and today we are delivering on that.”
With an agreement in place, the details of the federation’s funding are being finalized by legal advice from both sides, according to the announcement.
The women’s team said last month that the players would not participate in team activities at the SheBelieves Cup tournament in February. Canada was one of four teams that participated in the round-robin tournament that visited three cities.
The Canadian women, who are seeking equal pay with their male counterparts, claimed they did not receive compensation for 2022. They said they had to cut training camp days and full camp windows, as well as reduce the number of players and staff invited to participate. camps. They were told there would be no home games scheduled before this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
After the players’ action, Canada Soccer said the move amounted to an illegal strike and the players agreed. But team captain Christine Sinclair said the team was playing SheBeleieves under protest.
During the anthems before each game, players wore purple shirts that said “Enough is Enough” and then wore purple armbands during games. Purple was a symbol of fairness. American and Japanese players also wore purple armbands in solidarity.
The labor dispute between the national teams and Canada Soccer dates back to last June, when the men’s team — then preparing for its first World Cup appearance in 36 years — boycotted a match against Panama in Vancouver to call on the attention to the subject.
Both national teams have raised questions about Canada Soccer and its relationship with Canadian Soccer Business. The CSB represents the federation in media and sponsorship deals and in turn pays the federation a guaranteed amount per year. The CSB did not respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The women want the same support ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand that the men received at the World Cup in Qatar last year. Both teams also want an explanation for why their programs are being cut this year.
Earlier this week, Nick Bontis resigned as president of Canada Soccer, acknowledging that change was needed to achieve labor peace with the men’s and women’s teams.
On Thursday, before the women’s funding deal was announced, both teams released a statement saying the change in leadership is “a necessary step” to ensure the success and growth of soccer in Canada.
“However, Canada Soccer must also respond to the players’ associations’ requests for adequate, transparent and complete access to their financial history, particularly in light of recent budget cuts to the same programs that have created a unprecedented interest from sponsors to support national teams.” said the statement. “The continued unauthorized use of images of national team players must be addressed. Immediate action must be taken to address the unsustainable financial constraints imposed by their agreement with Canadian Soccer Business, once and for all all”.
Both teams asked the federation to work with them on the best way forward before naming a successor.
Report from The Associated Press.
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