Canada women's soccer frustrated over funding cuts
The GIST: Canada Soccer is embattled in yet another labor dispute. On Saturday, the governing body threatened legal action against its women’s national team, which went on strike over budget cuts and pay equity issues while prepping for this week’s SheBelieves Cup.
The details: On Friday, the CanWNT took job action after Canada Soccer pulled funds from both the women’s and men’s national team programs. The move reduces the number of players and staff available during the buildup to July’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, meaning fewer resources than the CanMNT had before the men’s World Cup last November.
- Canada Soccer called the strike unlawful when the parties met on Saturday — Ontario law requires a 17-day countdown to a strike after the province’s minister of labor issues a “no board” report, something the players requested last Tuesday.
- The CanWNT said they were “forced” to return to training yesterday, in large part because they haven’t yet received any compensation from Canada Soccer for their work last year. Unacceptable.
The next steps: Players will play the SheBelieves Cup “in protest,” with the possibility of a formal strike looming. Canada Soccer’s partners have yet to chime in, but may carry major sway if recent trends continue — Hockey Canada lost $17.6 million from sponsors last year after mishandling sexual misconduct cases.
The context: The dispute thrusts the governing body’s less-than-transparent approach to money back into the spotlight. Canada Soccer had $12.7 million reserved for the women’s team from Sport Canada, but players questioned where the money was actually spent and said requests to see the organization’s finances were ignored.
- The feud also renews questions about Canada Soccer’s murky relationship with Canada Soccer Business (CSB), a company that will reportedly pay $2.6 million max a year for the commercial rights to the country’s popular women’s and men’s national teams over the course of the deal, which expires in 2027.
Zooming out: CanWNT and CanMNT have never been more successful, but Canada Soccer may miss out on financial rewards thanks to its deal with CSB and its constant feuds with both national teams. It might be worth borrowing tactics from Canada’s southern neighbor, where labor peace ushered in business victories.
- Above all, Canada Soccer’s latest mess continues a trend of mismanagement across the country’s national sports organizations — including hockey and gymnastics — that needs to be addressed. Talk about scoring an own goal.