Osorio says relationship with Canada Soccer can be mended, but it will take time

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TORONTO — Veteran midfielder Jonathan Osorio has voiced his support for Canadian captain Christine Sinclair and her assertion that Canada Soccer operates in a “culture of secrecy and obstruction.”

“I do think I’ve experienced moments like that,” the Toronto FC star said.

Osorio said there has been no attempt to repair the relationship between the players and the governing body in the past.

“It’s kind of been a separate thing and not one team. And because of that, this is where we’re at now,” he said after training Friday. “There’s a big distance between the two sides where there shouldn’t be.

“It should be, in good federations, both sides are working together and everything’s transparent. So that we can work with them. We understand there are constraints and all these other things.”

On a positive note, Osorio said he believes the relationship can be repaired.

“Because the relationship over a long period of time has not been fixed, it’s going to take time to mend it. But it is possible. And the players, we’re trying, we’re doing what we can to fix that. Now we need the other side to be co-operative as well so that things can get better.”

Sinclair made her comments before a parliamentary committee.

Sinclair and teammate Janine Beckie also lambasted Canada Soccer for releasing part of its proposed collecting bargaining agreement hours ahead of their testimony before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage.

Osorio also disapproved of the Canada Soccer move.

“I think it’s not fair. It’s some kind of tactic to try and deflect from what’s really being discussed here,” he said. “For me there’s a way to go about things. I think they’re deflecting a little bit too much. … There needs to be a little more transparency. And, in my opinion, there’s a respectful way to go about those things.”

Osorio said the sport is at a crossroads in Canada.

“It can go two ways. It can keep improving and keep moving on the up. Or it can go back down to maybe where it was a few years ago.”

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 with 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.

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