(Vancouver) The Canadian men’s soccer team refused to play a pre-World Cup friendly against Panama on Sunday due to a contract dispute between the players and the national body.
Posted at 10:53 am
The game scheduled for Vancouver’s BC Place was canceled less than two hours before kickoff. Hundreds of disgruntled fans wearing red and white jerseys lingered outside the stadium after the news broke.
The Canadian players released a statement on Sunday revealing that they decided not to play the match because negotiations on a new agreement were “unnecessarily prolonged”.
“It’s time for us to stand up for the future of soccer in Canada,” the statement said, noting that talks began in March.
Players said they want more transparency from Canada Soccer, changes in body leadership and compensation for the World Cup which includes 40% in compensation and a “full package for friends and family” for 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“We want to work with our organization, but the relationship has been strained for years,” the statement continued. And now, Canada Soccer does not respect our team and has compromised our efforts to raise standards and effectively promote the sport in Canada. »
The players ’proposal is not financially viable, said Canada Soccer President Nick Bontis.
“My job as president is a responsibility to the health and stability of this organization, not just for the past 120 years we have gone through, but for the next 100 years,” he said at a press conference. Sunday afternoon. And I would not accept this offer that would put our organization in an unstable financial situation. »
Players also want to review the deal Canada Soccer signed with Canadian Soccer Business (CSB) in 2019. The 10-year deal will see CSB representing the men’s and women’s national teams in all sponsorship and broadcast deals . .
The player’s statement said the deal “weakened (Canada Soccer’s) ability to use the field success of our senior national teams.”
“We need the details of this agreement to be released and corrected,” he said. We want to know who signed this agreement that signed our association. Why did Canada Soccer give up autonomy in the biggest opportunity to grow our program in years? »
Bontis defended the agreement, saying Canada Soccer Business plays a “key role” in the development of the sport in Canada.
Canada Soccer Business President Scott Mitchell released a statement Sunday night saying he “fully supports” the call for more transparency.
“We are proud of our agreement with Canada Soccer and what it means for the Canadian soccer ecosystem,” he said. We are ready for full transparency in our deal which includes an unprecedented amount of revenue for Canada Soccer over the past 18 months in the form of sponsorship and international media money. »
The players are also calling for a fair compensation structure for men’s and women’s teams, and the formation of a national women’s league.
The Canadian women’s team reacted with a statement that they were happy with the men’s team’s initiative, but mentioned that the women’s team did not consider FIFA’s equal percentages for both teams as a salary.
“The National Women’s Team will not accept any deal that does not offer equal pay,” the statement read.
The women’s group also clarified that they view the proposal filed on Friday by Canada Soccer for both teams as a “positive step” toward pay equality between men’s and women’s teams, ”and provide the basis for future negotiations. ” “.
The American Football Association recently agreed to collective agreements that offer equal pay for the first time to both men’s and women’s teams.
The Canadian men’s team canceled two exercises, Friday and Saturday, due to a contract dispute.
The men’s team has not played at home since beating Jamaica 4-0 in Toronto on March 27 to earn a World Cup berth.
Canada must start the Concacaf Nations League against Curaçao (79e) in Vancouver on June 9.