Less than one week before they are scheduled to play in the SheBelieves Cup in the United States, the Canadian women’s national soccer team have announced that they are on strike.
The team’s strike comes after budget cuts, pay equity issues, and lack of support from the Canada Soccer federation. The women’s team has demanded the same budget the men’s team received last year to get ready for the World Cup in Qatar. The women’s World Cup takes place in New Zealand this summer.
“With the biggest tournament in women’s football history less than six months away, our preparation for the World Cup and the future success of the Women’s National Team program are being compromised by Canada Soccer’s continued inability to support its national teams,” the players wrote in a statement via the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association. “Despite our strong track record of success and history-making achievements for more than a decade, we continue to be told there is not enough money to adequately fund our program and our youth team.
“With the Men’s National Team’s recent success, soccer in Canada has never been more popular. Canada’s national teams have never been more successful, or attracting more corporate dollars. Yet despite these steps forward, we are still stuck asking the same question … where is the funding?”
The players called the budget cuts a “burden” that has left them “frustrated” and “deeply disrespected by Canada Soccer.” They added that they have cut training programs and staff and have had to “simply make do with less.”
“It hurts, I’m not going to lie,” Christine Sinclair said to TSN. “We all represent this country proudly. We’ve shared some of the greatest moments together. But to not feel that support from your own federation has been hard in the past. But it’s gotten to a point where, at least for me personally, until this is resolved I can’t represent this federation. I’m such a competitor that breaks my heart and kills me…
“As a team, we’ve decided to take job action and from this moment on will not be participating in any Canadian Soccer Association activities until this is resolved.”
The men’s team, in a statement of their own, said they are “deeply disappointed by the actions of Canada Soccer, and wholeheartedly support the Women’s National Team players’ statement made this afternoon about completely unsatisfactory preparation conditions for this summer’s World Cup.”
Canada Soccer released a responding statement, saying they have a “proven track record of supporting women’s soccer,” but “there is more to do.”
“Pay equity for our women’s national team is at the core of our ongoing player negotiations. Canada Soccer will not agree to a deal without it,” the federation said. “That is why, after months of negotiations with our women’s national team players and their legal counsel, Canada Soccer already issued a mutually-agreed to retroactive payment.”
They also added that they had “presented an equity-based proposal to our national teams and their counsel several months ago, and we are still waiting for a definitive response to the terms of that proposal.”
The Canadians won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.