Canada captain Christine Sinclair said the women’s national team will go on strike due to equal pay issues and lack of funding which they believe will compromise their performance.
They are set to face the United States in the SheBelieves Cup on Feb. 17.
“As a team, we decided to take action,” Sinclair told broadcaster TSN.
“As of this moment, we will not participate in any (Canada Soccer) activities until this is resolved – be it training, be it matches.
“It’s very hard to say as an athlete who wants to compete and represent Canada, but that’s enough.”
Canada is ranked sixth in the world and has won Olympic gold in 2021.
In a statement released by the Canadian Footballers Association (CSPA), players said they are “outraged and deeply concerned” to report funding cuts at the national body.
“We are demanding immediate changes,” the statement read.
“We expect and deserve nothing less than to be treated equally and fairly and to have our program – and our World Cup preparations – adequately funded.
“We are feeling frustrated and, once again, deeply disrespected by Canada Soccer.”
The statement was supported by the men’s team, which went on strike last year in a dispute over World Cup prize money.
Forward Janine Beckie, speaking alongside Sinclair after the statement was released, said the team would not play the SheBelieves match if the issues were not resolved.
“This is the men’s and women’s team together taking action against a federation that has mistreated us for a long time, and we’ve been very good for a long time,” she said.
“Right now we are not going to train, we are not going to participate in meetings. Any activities scheduled with the national team in the near future, we will not participate.”
Canada Soccer said it will meet with the women’s team on Saturday for further talks, insisting it has a “proven track record” of supporting women’s soccer.
The Women’s World Cup takes place from July 20 to August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
‘We are tired of constantly fighting for fair treatment’
The players’ joint statement said Canada Soccer had cut training camp days and full pitch windows, which would affect the team’s preparations for the World Cup.
The team said it had been “patiently negotiating” with Canada Soccer for over a year but had been told to “settle for less”.
They added that they felt “frustrated and deeply disrespected” by the “unacceptable burden” placed on their shoulders.
“We are tired of constantly having to fight for fair and equal treatment and a program that gives us the chance to achieve what we know this team is capable of achieving for Canada,” the statement continued.
“This lack of support threatens to reverse the progress we’ve made as a football nation and send us back into obscurity.
“National teams cannot continue to be the only ones fighting for our success. Enough was enough a long time ago.”
Canada Soccer said it issued a “mutually agreed retroactive payment” after “months of negotiations” with the team.
“We presented an equity-based proposal to our national teams and their lawyers several months ago and are still awaiting a definitive response to the terms of that proposal,” he said. added the governing body.
Canada men ‘wholeheartedly support’ women’s national team
The statement by the women’s team comes eight months after Canada’s men’s team went on strike amid its own dispute with Canada Soccer.
In June 2022, the men’s players released a letter accusing the organization of “disrespecting” the team in relation to negotiations over prize money for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
On Friday, the men’s team said they were “deeply disappointed” with Canada Soccer and “wholeheartedly support” the women’s team’s statement.
They added that it was “outrageous” that their peers were not being adequately supported in their build-up to the Women’s World Cup.
“We are at a crucial time for football in Canada. said the men’s team.
“This is a once-in-a-generation, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow the sport in Canada, and Canada Soccer’s current leadership is putting that opportunity at risk.”
Canada, along with the United States and Mexico, will host the next men’s World Cup in 2026.