Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane to appear before Heritage Committee

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It’s Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane’s turn Monday to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa.

Cochrane will be accompanied by Canada Soccer board members Paul-Claude Berube and Stephanie J. Geosits.

Monday’s hearing follows March 9 testimony on the ongoing soccer labour dispute by captain Christine Sinclair and teammates Janine Beckie, Sophie Schmidt and Quinn, who goes by one name.

The players, who have made a combined 732 appearances for Canada at the senior level, told the parliamentary committee that the Canadian women’s team has essentially been treated as an afterthought compared to the men’s side.

Cochrane was named general secretary in July after serving as acting general secretary since January 2022 after Peter Montopoli stepped down to become chief operating officer for Canada FIFA World Cup 2026.

Cochrane has had a variety of roles with the governing body over two stints dating back to 2001.

As general secretary, Cochrane is the “operational leader of Canada Soccer” working with the president — an elected position — and the board of directors. Nick Bontis stepped down as president last month with Charmaine Crooks elevated to acting president pending elections in May.

Berube has seen on the Canada Soccer board since 2015-16. A Quebec lawyer, he is billed as an expert in human rights and governance. He joined joining Soccer Quebec in 2010.

Geosits has worked as a journalist and consultant. While earning a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, she wrote her policy analysis exercise on diversifying hockey for the National Hockey League. She has also served as executive director of the Carnegie Initiative for Inclusion and Acceptance in Hockey.

The sixth-ranked women’s team, which formed the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association in 2016, has been without a labour deal since the last one expired at the end of 2021. They have struck an agreement in principle with Canada Soccer on compensation for 2022 but say other issues have yet to be resolved.

The 53rd-ranked men, who organized last summer as the Canada Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association, are working on their first formal labour agreement.

Both teams have resorted to job action over their dissatisfaction at the labour impasse.

The men boycotted a planned friendly against Panama last June in Vancouver. And the women’s team briefly downed tools before last month’s SheBelieves Cup before being forced back onto the pitch by threats of legal action from Canada Soccer.

The Heritage Committee has already taken Hockey Canada to task as part of it Safe Sport in Canada research.

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