Canadian women's national soccer team players voice concerns over equal pay

Canada celebrates a goal by Christine Sinclair during second half soccer action against Nigeria during the national team celebration tour at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C., Monday, April 11, 2022. Canada tied Nigeria 2-2. (Chad Hipolito/CP)

Players from the Canadian women's national soccer team added their concerns to the Canada Soccer wage dispute that rocked the sport over the weekend, saying in a statement on Sunday that they had also been bargaining in good faith with the Canadian Soccer Association to achieve equal pay.

They added that a proposal was presented to both national teams on Friday and that "represents a positive step toward pay equity between Men's and Women's, and one that provides a basis for further negotiations with the CSA."

The statement from the women's team comes after Sunday night's friendly between Canada's men's team and Panama was cancelled, with players refusing to the take the pitch amid a contract dispute between the players and the sport's national governing body.

Canada Soccer confirmed the match, scheduled for Sunday at Vancouver's B.C. Place, had been cancelled less than two hours before kickoff. Hundreds of fans dressed in red and white uniforms lingered outside the stadium after the news broke.

The Canadian players issued a statement Sunday afternoon saying they decided not to play the game because the negotiations over a new deal had been "unnecessarily prolonged."

"It's time we take a stand for the future of soccer in Canada," the statement said.

The players said they want more transparency from Canada Soccer, changes in the organization's leadership, and World Cup compensation that includes 40 per cent of prize money and a "comprehensive friends and family package" for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Players also want a review of the deal Canada Soccer signed with Canadian Soccer Business in 2019. The 10-year agreement sees Canadian Soccer Business represent both the men's and women's national teams in all sponsorship and broadcast deals.

The men's team is also asking for an equitable compensation structure for the men's and women's teams, and the development of a women's domestic league.

The Canadian women's team said in its statement Sunday that it is happy to hear about the men's team's request, but it noted that the women's team does not view equal FIFA percentages for the two teams as equal pay.

"The women's national team will not accept an agreement that does not offer equal pay,'' the statement said.

In a press conference Sunday night, CSA president Nick Bontis called the men's team's offer "untenable" even if the association had only the men's and women's teams to attend to.

It's not the first time Canada Soccer has cancelled a game scheduled for the current international window. Canada was initially set to host Iran in a friendly at B.C. Place on Sunday, but the match drew heavy criticism, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying it "wasn't a very good idea'' to invite the Iranian team to play.

The men's team has not played on home soil since it beat Jamaica 4-0 in Toronto on March 27 and clinched a spot in the World Cup. It's been even longer since the squad played in Vancouver, with its last appearance coming in March 2019, when Canada beat French Guiana 4-1 in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying.

Canada, ranked 38th in the world, is scheduled to kick off CONCACAF Nations League play against No. 79 Curacao in Vancouver on June 9.

"We want to apologize to our fans,'' the players said in their statement. "Playing at home with your support is everything to us. We hope Canada Soccer will take decisive steps to work with our team so we can be back on the field for our match (in Vancouver) on June 9.''

— With files from the Canadian Press

When submitting content, please abide by our  submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.
We use cookies to improve your experience. Learn More or change your cookie preferences. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies.