Canadian women’s soccer players threaten strike over ‘significant cuts’ to program in World Cup year

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Canadian women’s national soccer team players are threatening to strike ahead of an upcoming tournament in the United States after Canada Soccer, their employer and the sport’s national governing body, decided to make “significant cuts” to their program, the players said Friday.

In a statement posted to social media, the CSPA, the Canadian players’ association, said that it was “both outraged and deeply concerned” with the lack of support, especially in a World Cup year. They said their preparation for that tournament, which begins in July, was being “compromised.”

“We’ve had to cut not only training camp days but full camp windows, cut the number of players and staff invited into camps, significantly limit the already limited youth teams’ activities, all while we continue to face immense uncertainty about compensation,” the players said in their statement.

“We have been told that there will be no home game for our team before the World Cup,” they continued. “We have been told, quite literally, that Canada Soccer cannot adequately fund the women’s national team, and they have waited to tell us this until now, when we are less than six months from the World Cup.”

The players, many of whom won gold at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, concluded by saying they “are committed to do whatever it takes to create public awareness of this crisis and to force Canada Soccer to start to support the national teams properly.”

Shortly after posting the statement, two players said on Canadian television that the team would not train until their demands are met.

“Until this is resolved, I can’t represent this federation,” Christine Sinclair, the all-time leading scorer in international soccer history, told TSN. “I’m such a competitor, it breaks my heart and kills me to actually be saying those words out loud.”

#CanWNT‘s Janine Beckie on TSN says it’s heart wrenching not to have a home game ahead of the World Cup.

“We will not be taking part in any activities going forward.”

Sinclair says they have not heard from the CSA since they sent their demands in on Thursday.

Won’t train.

— Har Journalist (@HarJournalist) February 10, 2023

The Canadian team is scheduled to face the U.S. on Thursday in the SheBelieves Cup, a four-team tournament that serves as an important launching pad and proving ground ahead of the World Cup. It’s unclear if the players are willing to play that game, or subsequent ones against Japan and Brazil.

Canada Soccer has not yet commented on the players’ statement.

The time is now, we are taking job action.

— CanadianSoccerPlayers (@PlayersCanadian) February 10, 2023

Shortly after it was released, Canadian men’s players — who refused to train last year amid a contract dispute with Canada Soccer in their own World Cup year — also posted a statement to social media. They said they were “deeply disappointed” by Canada Soccer’s actions and “wholeheartedly support” the women.

A message from #CANMNT 🍁

— Alistair Johnston (@_a_johnston) February 10, 2023

Shortly after the men briefly went on strike last June, the men’s and women’s players united to call for an investigation into Canada Soccer’s governance and finances. The federation has not publicly released financial records that might justify what the players believe is a failure to “properly operate Canada Soccer or fairly compensate the players.”

The men said Friday that their budget had also been cut, not long after they appeared at their first World Cup since 1986.

They concluded their statement by urging Canadian minister of sport Pascale St-Onge to “intervene” if Canada Soccer does not “take immediate action to respond to the players’ demands and concerns.”

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