The Canadian women’s soccer team says despite the recently announced interim funding agreement with Canada Soccer, there is still “a lot of work to be done” to achieve labour peace.
In a statement released late Friday, the women say the agreement in principle “does not solve the deeper issues around pay equity and equalization of supports and resources across the national teams” that caused the women to take job action before last month’s SheBelieves Cup.
Canada Soccer says the funding agreement announced Thursday mirrors the interim deal with the men’s team for appearance fees and results-based bonuses. The governing body called it “a bridge deal to get us to a collectively bargained agreement.”
The women, who briefly downed tools prior before the SheBelieves Cup opener in Orlando, say while they have told Canada Soccer they will play in the April FIFA window, their participation is contingent on “meaningful progress being made with respect to a number of bargaining issues.”
“Proper funding for the women’s national team program for 2023 and for the youth national program are at the very top of the list (of demands) right now,” the women said in the statement.
Sixth-ranked Canada is due to play No. 5 France on April 11 in Le Mans in the penultimate FIFA window before the World Cup, which kicks off July 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
The women want the same backing and preparation in advance of their tournment as the men got before the World Cup in Qatar last year. Their concerns include being provided the same travel and staff, among other things.
Like the men, they want Canada Soccer to open its books and explain why both programs are being cut in 2023, given the success of the two teams on and off the field. They also want to see Canada Soccer’s deal with Canadian Soccer Business, which handles the governing body’s broadcast and sponsorship rights.
The women say they have been told Canada Soccer won’t run camps in all of the FIFA windows for 2023, and that the scheduled camps will be shorter and involve fewer players than usual.
In their statement, the women say they have had to “bargain in the dark” because of “persistent failure by Canada Soccer to make proper financial disclosure to the players.”
The women’s existing labour 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.
Captain Christine Sinclair, Sophie Schmidt, Janine Beckie and Quinn, who goes by one name, are due to appear before the parliamentary Heritage Committee on March 9. The four are the team’s player representatives.
Canada Soccer officials are due to appear before the committee on March 20.
Nick Bontis stepped down as Canada Soccer president on Monday, acknowledging “that this moment requires change.” Former Olympian Charmaine Crooks was elevated from vice-president to interim president following his departure with Kelly Brown named interim vice-president.
The women appear less than impressed by the temporary changing of the guard.
“As impressive as Charmaine Crooks is as an athlete and a Canadian, from the women’s national team’s perspective she represents the ‘old guard’ on the board. She was on the board when it approved the Canada Soccer Business deal in 2018, and she has always appeared to the players to be closely allied with Nick Bontis. Unfortunately in the decade she has spent on the board, the players have seen nothing to suggest that she was working to promote the women’s national team’s interests,” the statement said.