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Canadian women strike interim labour deal but say plenty more needs to be settled

July 28, 2023
The Canadian Press

The Canada Soccer logo.
By Neil Davidson

The Canadian women’s soccer team confirmed Friday it has reached an interim labour agreement with Canada Soccer covering compensation for 2023, including prize money from the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup.

But there was no celebration in announcing the deal, which was reached Monday, via a team statement on social media

“As the extent of Canada Soccer’s financial constraints have been revealed, we have been forced to choose between compensation and the funding required to hold necessary training camps,” the statement read.

“We have been forced to choose between receiving a fair share of the rewards from our teams’ successes at the World Cup and our commitment to equal pay and equal treatment with our men’s national team. These are choices we should not have to make.

“We are deeply disappointed to find ourselves without a more complete agreement at this crucial stage in our calendar.”

‘This isn’t over’

The interim deal ensures “at minimum” equal pay with the men’s team, the statement said. But there are “many more important items” that still have to be settled, the women said.

“This isn’t over. We and the men’s national team remain committed to finding a long-term solution that provides for fair and equal treatment for our current national teams and investments in the future of Canadian soccer, but for now, our team just wants to focus on soccer.”

In a subsequent social media post, the women said they would make no further comment on the issue until the end of the tournament.

“All focus is on the team’s performance at this time,” it said.

An interim deal was expected.

Canada captain Christine Sinclair had said going into the soccer showcase in Australia and New Zealand that the Olympic champion women wanted an interim agreement covering compensation at this World Cup done in advance of the opening kickoff so they could focus on football.

And while that deal was not confirmed until Friday, Sinclair had told reporters at the tournament that it was all but done and the women are concentrating on their on-field mission.

The seventh-ranked Canadian women, who formed the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association in 2016, have 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.

Men negotiating first agreement

The 43rd-ranked men, who organized last summer as the Canada Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association, are working on their first formal labour agreement.

Earlier in the tournament, the men’s team released a statement accusing the governing body of “attempting to capitalize on the Women’s World Cup to force us into an inadequate deal.”

The statement, by the Canada Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association, was released on social media on the eve of Wednesday’s showdown in Perth, Australia, between Canada and Ireland.

The men say Canada Soccer wants to keep approximately 70 per cent of combined World Cup prize money “while simultaneously demanding that we agree to reduce our per game compensation dramatically, by as much as 75 per cent.

“Shockingly, to date, the men’s national team players have not been paid anything for their participation in the 2022 World Cup eight months ago.”

The men say their “highly reasonable proposal” would allow Canada Soccer to retain between $8.9 million and $14.1 million from the combined prize pool of the men’s and women’s World Cups.

The Canadian men’s team earned US$9 million from FIFA as one of the teams exiting after the group stage in Qatar. FIFA says, under its new compensation package at the women’s tournament, member associations will receive from US$1.56 million for a team exiting after the group stage to US$4.29 million for the champion.

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