The Canadian men's and women's national team players are calling on Sports Canada to investigate "Canada Soccer's governance practices" and an agreement Canada Soccer made with a private company known as Canada Soccer Business (CSB).
The national teams made the request in a joint statement Wednesday, in response to a detailed investigation by TSN's Rick Westhead published earlier this week.
"(Westhead's) detailed account of the internal workings of Canada Soccer raises serious questions about how Canada Soccer has made and continues to make important decisions that affect not only our teams, but the future of soccer in Canada," the statement reads.
Westhead's report shed light on the financial relationship between Canada Soccer and CSB, including the fact that the two parties are tied into an agreement that sends large portions of revenue to CSB.
The books for Canada Soccer have been under increased scrutiny in recent months following the men's team's qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. In early June, the men's team protested by sitting out of a friendly against Panama, citing a breakdown in negotiations over how money is being distributed to the national teams.
The players have asked for a payment equivalent to 40 per cent of the $10 million payout earned by qualifying for the World Cup, after tax, but Canada Soccer says that a contract signed in 2019 with CSB makes that unable to happen.
Westhead's investigation revealed that while revenue from ticket sales stays with the national program, any revenue from sponsorships goes right to CSB, which has the exclusive power to sell both broadcasting and corporate sponsorship rights to the men’s and women’s national teams for a guaranteed fee paid to Canada Soccer.
According to Westhead, that set fee was $3 million in 2019 — the first year of the deal — and will rise to $3.5 million in 2027, when the deal expires. However, CSB has the option to trigger a 10-year extension which would see them pay Canada Soccer just $4 million per year through 2037.
The CSB uses its revenue to fund the teams in the Canadian Premier League.
"The sponsorship and broadcast revenues associated with the National Teams for the next 15 years — important future revenue streams that are growing as a result of the players' success and the excitement surrounding the FIFA World Cup coming to Canada in 2026 — are being transferred to owners of a for-profit professional men's league and used instead for their benefit," Wednesday's statement from the player reads.
"The Men's and Women's National Team players are committed to moving this sport forward, not backward, and to working together toward fair agreements that will achieve equity in working conditions and compensation.
"However, for that to be possible, immediate steps must be taken to address the serious issues raised."