Friday, February 23, 2024

Canada Soccer, Women’s National 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 equalising 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 team participating in the round-robin tournament that visited four cities.

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 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 Canadian women claimed they 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 World Cup. They also said they were not compensated for playing in 2022.

The labor dispute between the national teams and Canada Soccer stretches back to 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.

“While this is an important step forward, and it signals progress, there is still more work to do to ensure both of our national programs are given the necessary resources and supports to prepare and compete,” Cochrane said.

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