MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) — The Canadian women’s national team is keeping a wary eye on concerns about its federation back home while focusing on a showdown with the United States in Mexico.
An investigation this week by The Sports Network detailed a controversial agreement between Canada Soccer and Canada Soccer Business, which oversees the federation’s media rights and sponsorship deals as both the men’s and women’s teams seek better and more equitable pay.
Earlier this week, the Canadian senior national teams put out a statement about the media outlet’s revelations and asked for a full investigation by the agency that governs sport in Canada.
“This must include a closer look at the motivations of those who are said to have entered into this agreement without following basic standards of proper governance, and why the agreement was allowed to remain in place if concerns were expressed by board members,” the statement said. “Moving forward, we call for the members of Canada’s national teams to be properly consulted in key Canada Soccer decisions impacting the national teams.”
The Canadian women, gold medalists at the Tokyo Olympics last year, are in Monterrey for the CONCACAF W Championship, which serves as the qualification tournament for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Canada and the United States are set to meet in the final on Monday.
Midfielder Quinn said the players were still digesting the TSN article.
“It’s been a tough week for us, but obviously we have an important match ahead,” Quinn said “That’s going to be the focus for us moving forward.”
Concerns about Canada Soccer’s relationship with CSB came to light last month when the Canadian men’s team refused to play in a friendly game against Panama over strained labor negotiations.
One of the sticking points was the $10 million in FIFA bonus money the men’s team earned by qualifying for the World Cup for the first time since 1986. Canada’s national teams believe they are entitled to a share of the bonus.
The men’s team has asked for 40% of World Cup prize money, a friends and family travel package, and “equitable structure with our women’s national team that shares the same player match fees, percentage of prize money earned at our respective FIFA World Cups.”
Canada Soccer calls those demands untenable. The proposed distribution of World Cup prize money was “not financially viable once a consideration of the women’s national team portion was accounted.”
“It is critically important to reiterate and be abundantly clear: fairness and pay equity is at the heart of our ongoing negotiations and we are committed to finding a resolution that meets both of those values,” Canada Soccer said in its statement.
The players have also called for transparency concerning the agreement between the federation and CSB, which uses revenue from the the deals it strikes to help fund Canada’s eight-team professional soccer league.
The Canadian women have already qualified for the 2023 World Cup as semifinalists at the W Championship, but the winner earns a berth in the 2024 Olympics. Canada won the gold medal at the Tokyo Games, beating Sweden on penalties in the final after edging the United States 1-0 in the semifinals.
The team’s captain, Christine Sinclair, who released the joint statement by the national teams, reiterated that for the moment the team must be focused on the tournament.
“Obviously, we appreciate the support we’ve received from around the world, but nothing really more has happened. No much more to say,” Sinclair said.
The Canadian players have been negotiating with the federation in the wake of a landmark agreement for equal pay between the U.S. Soccer federation and its players.
“The men’s team is fully supportive and we’re both on the same page,” Sinclair said. “Now it’s just a matter of getting Canada Soccer on it.”
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