Canada’s men’s and women’s soccer teams have called on Canada Soccer to consult with the players “on the best path forward” before the next permanent president is chosen.
Former Olympian Charmaine Crooks has taken over as acting president in the wake of Nick Bontis’ resignation. An election will be held in May to determine who finishes out Bontis’s term, which runs through the summer of 2024.
“This change in board leadership at Canada Soccer is one necessary step to ensure the future success of our national team and youth programs, and the survival and growth of soccer in Canada for generations to come,” the two national teams said in a joint statement Thursday.
The players called on Canada Soccer “to consult immediately and meaningfully with the national teams on the best path forward, before Mr. Bontis’s permanent successor is named.”
“A real and meaningful change to Canada Soccer’s strategy is needed — one that puts the sport and its players first,” the statement added. “Canada Soccer’s next president must share the national teams’ commitment to fully capitalizing on this moment in Canadian soccer, and ensuring our national teams and youth programs have the resources and support they need to compete on the world stage for years to come.”
The players also repeated their call for Canada Soccer to open its books “particularly in light of recent budget cuts to the very programs that have generated unprecedented sponsor interest in supporting the national teams. It needs to address the unauthorized use still being made of national team player images.
“It needs to take immediate action to address the untenable financial constraints imposed by its agreement with Canadian Soccer Business, once and for all.”
Details on the controversial deal with Canadian Soccer Business, which handles broadcast rights and sponsorship for Canada Soccer, are expected to come out in parliamentary Heritage Committee hearings later this month. The committee has asked to see the agreement in addition to Canada Soccer board minutes dating back to 2017.
The committee is scheduled to hear representatives from the women’s team on March 9 and Canada Soccer on March 20.
The Canadian women want the same backing and preparation in advance of this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as the men did before Qatar,
The men’s and women’s teams are both negotiating collective bargaining agreements.
The women’s existing agreement ran out at the end of 2021 while the men are working on their first formal deal, having banded together as the Canada Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association last year. The women organized under the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association in 2016.
The Canadian men refused to play a planned friendly against Panama last June in Vancouver over their dissatisfaction at the progress of the labour talks. The women briefly downed tools before the recent SheBelieves Cup, eventually playing the tournament under protest after Canada Soccer threatened them with legal action if they did not return to the field.