Canada Soccer, women’s team reach interim funding agreement – Trending News

Canada Soccer, women’s team reach interim funding agreement

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Canada Soccer and the women’s national team have agreed on an interim funding agreement that is retroactive to last year after players threatened to boycott team activities at last month’s SheBelieves Cup tournament.

The two sides issued a joint statement Thursday which said the terms of the agreement include “per-game incentives and results-based compensation” similar to an agreement with the men’s team. The federation is still negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with both.

“This is about respect, this is about dignity, and this is 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 to have fairness and equal pay be pillars of any new agreements with our players, and we are delivering on that today.”

With an agreement in place, details of the federation’s funding are being finalized by legal counsel from both sides, the announcement said.

The women’s team said last month that players would not take part in team activities at the SheBelieves Cup tournament in February. Canada was among four teams participating in the round-robin tournament that visited three cities.

The Canadian women, who are seeking equal pay to their male counterparts, claimed they were not compensated for 2022. They said they’ve had to cut training camp days and full camp windows, as well as trim the number of players and staff invited into camps. They were told there would be no home games scheduled before the Women’s World Cup this summer.

After the players’ action, Canada Soccer said that such a move amounted to an illegal strike, and the players acquiesced. But team captain Christine Sinclair said the team was playing in the SheBeleieves under protest.

During the anthems before each match, players wore purple shirts that read “Enough is Enough” and then wore purple armbands during the games. The purple was a symbol for equity. American and Japanese players also wore purple armbands in solidarity.

The labor dispute between the national teams and Canada Soccer stretches back to last June when the men’s team —at the time preparing for its first World Cup appearance in 36 years — boycotted a match against Panama in Vancouver to draw attention to the issue.

Both national teams have raised questions about Canada Soccer and its relationship to Canadian Soccer Business. The CSB represents the federation in media and sponsorship deals and in turn it pays the federation a guaranteed sum per year. The CSB has not replied to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The women want the same backing ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as the men received at their World Cup in Qatar last year. The two teams also want an explanation for why their programs are being cut this year.

Earlier this week, Nick Bontis resigned as president of the Canada Soccer, acknowledging change is needed to achieve labor peace with the men’s and women’s teams.

On Thursday, before the funding agreement with the women was announced, both national teams issued a statement calling the change in leadership “one necessary step” to ensure the success and growth of soccer in Canada.

“However, Canada Soccer must also respond to the players associations’ requests for proper, transparent and comprehensive access to its financial record, particularly in light of recent budget cuts to the very programs that have generated unprecedented sponsor interest in supporting the national teams,” the statement said. “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.”

The two teams called on the federation to work with them on the best path forward before a successor is named.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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