After a long-standing battle with Canada Soccer over pay/treatment equity, its players have finally taken a stand and will be going on strike in protest of the lack of care shown towards the Canadian women’s national team by the federation.
With less than six months to go before the World Cup, the players released a statement saying that they were informed by the federation that their budget would be slashed and no home friendlies will be scheduled before they head to Australia and New Zealand later this year. As a collective, the players posted a statement on the Canadian Soccer Players Association (CSPA) account denouncing the treatment they have received from the federation and then later on confirmed on TSN that they would be on strike.
The time is now, we are taking job action. pic.twitter.com/QbVbhTcdDU— CanadianSoccerPlayers (@PlayersCanadian) February 10, 2023
The players also stated that Canada Soccer had informed them that there would be cuts to training camp days, “full camp windows”, the number of players and staff that can be involved with the team and that the federation remains committed in not scheduling any home friendlies, despite being widely criticised for it.
The statement from the women’s team was also backed by the men’s team, who released their own statement in support of their counterparts. The men’s team have also had a long-standing disagreement with the federation so their support does not come as a big surprise to those who have been following this situation.
On TSN, after releasing this statement, veteran players Christine Sinclair and Janine Beckie confirmed that the players will be striking after not hearing from Canada Soccer since last Thursday, when the team had submitted their demands to the federation.
“We will not be taking part in any activities going forward,” said Janine Beckie. “We have been patiently negotiating with Canada Soccer for more than a year. Now that our World Cup is approaching, the women’s national team players are being told to prepare to perform at a world-class level without the same level of support that was received by the men’s national team in 2022, and with significant cuts to our program — to simply make do with less.”
With the She Believes Cup set to start in less than a week, and with Canada set to play against the USWNT on that day, this has now far reaching consequences outside of Canada. The hope from the players is that this will force the federation to be more equitable with their budget, especially considering how much support the team needs leading into the World Cup, and moving forward as well.
"Until this is resolved, I can't represent this federation.." #CanWNT— TSN Soccer (@TSNSoccer) February 11, 2023
Watch @rwesthead full interview with @sincy12 & @janinebeckie as they announce the Canadian Women's National Team is going on strike: https://t.co/vRK7GkOnVD pic.twitter.com/uhkyFbafAu
Canada Soccer released a statement in response to what has happened over the last few hours but their response has been lacking. It seemed to completely bypass what the players were asking for and re-iterated that the federation had always looked to support the teams, even when the teams have not been responding to their correspondence. This seems highly unlikely and almost farcical in nature by the federation as numerous reports have come out about their treatment to both the men’s and women’s teams, and how both teams have called for investigations into how the board of the federation has used it’s finances to support the sport in Canada.
As of right now, Canada seems set not to participate in the She Believes Cup and any further national team commitments unless something changes. Given the nature of their demands to the federation, the onus is on Canada Soccer to do right by their athletes and not try to gaslight fans into thinking that they have been fair in their dealings with them. They haven’t.
UPDATE: Late on Saturday night (February 11th, 2023), the Canadian Soccer Players Association announced that due to the threat of legal action by Canada Soccer towards the players, they will end the strike for now and participate at the She Believes Cup.