Canada-El Salvador game to be played, despite player protests

Canada's Jonathan David (left) battles for the ball with El Salvador's Narciso Orellana during first half World Cup qualifying action in Toronto, on Wednesday, September 8, 2021. (Chris Young/CP)

After an hour of doubt mere hours before kick off, the Canadian men’s national soccer team’s game against El Salvador on Wednesday night will indeed be played as scheduled. The match was compromised when Salvadorian players released a statement threatening that they would not show up.

Players wrote a statement saying they would not play due to a dispute with their federation and agreed upon bonuses, casting a cloud of uncertainty over the match scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET at Estadio Cuscatlan. Salvadorian players, including Los Angeles Galaxy defender Eriq Zavaleta and Seattle Sounders fullback Alex Roldan, posted the statement on social media Wednesday afternoon.

The players stated: “As a united group we’ve decided to step aside and and not continue to be part of these efforts on behalf of the federation. We will not play this game, to set a precedent and this not be repeated for us, nor any selection of El Salvador.”

“We ask the president and committee of the federation to take action in being able to give the players, the treatment they deserve and must have, without putting other needs first. This not only for this group, but for all national teams that don’t have the proper conditions to compete.”

Minutes later, FESFUT announced that they would hold a press conference to offer an update on Wednesday night’s game.

Before the press conference took place, Salvadorian players released a second statement saying that the game will in fact be played as scheduled. They added that despite the actions which have affected their focus and concentration, the players had agreed as a group to play the game.

Wednesday night’s game is Canada’s third and final match of the current Concacaf qualifier window for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Canada sit atop the “octagon” with 22 points in 10 games, four points clear of the U.S. and Mexico who are tied in second place.

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