Canada’s women’s soccer labor dispute explained: Why the national team went on strike over budget cuts

O Canada The women’s national soccer team is playing in the SheBelieves Cup after nearly folding due to an ongoing labor dispute with Canada Soccer. The team will play the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer, but budget cuts aren’t sitting well with team members as they prepare.

On February 16, the women’s team decided to wear purple before their first SheBelieves Cup match against U.S.

“Purple has historically been associated with efforts to achieve gender equality,” read a statement shared on Twitter by the Canadian Footballers Association. “Considering the current circumstances, our players will continue to wear purple until our association has a standard that ensures equal treatment and opportunity.”

Earlier that day, the Canadian players showed up for practice wearing off-brand clothing and inside-out shirts. It wasn’t a coincidence, but a way of sharing a message that they’ve been bringing for some time.

“Where you find the coat of arms, you are in our hearts. We are proud and honored to play for Canada,” he said. said midfielder Sophie Schmidt. “We feel that our federation has let us down. That’s the reason why we have (training kit) backwards. We know Canadians are behind and support us.”

Here’s a closer look at the situation, starting at the beginning:

Canadian players express discontent with funding

On February 10, the Canadian women’s national team players announced on social media that they were taking action due to what they felt was a lack of sufficient funding. Players wrote that they were “outraged and deeply concerned” by the team’s significant budget cuts for 2023.

In their post, players pointed out that football in Canada has never been more successful both on the field and in attracting corporate dollars. Canada won its first Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer in 2021, and the men’s team qualified for the World Cup last year for the first time in 36 years. With the recent achievements of both teams, the women’s team questioned why Canada Soccer did not provide commensurate funding.

“We have been patiently negotiating with Canada Soccer for over a year,” the statement reads. “Now that our World Cup is approaching, the Women’s National Team players are being told to prepare for world-class performance without the same level of support received by the Men’s National Team in 2022, and with significant cuts to our program – to simply settle for less.”

The women’s team said they were feeling “frustrated” and “disrespected” by the “lack of support”. As they prepare to compete with their “new budget reality”, they have had to cut training camp days, full camp windows, and even cut the number of players and staff invited to camps.

“We have been told, quite literally, that Canada Soccer cannot adequately fund the Women’s National Team, and they have waited to tell us this until now, when we are less than six months away from the World Cup,” the statement reads.

Canada Soccer calls off short-term team strike

The Canadian women’s national team players said they are committed to doing whatever it takes to raise public awareness of what is happening, with the aim of getting Canada Soccer to support both national soccer teams properly. They put their words into action by going on strike on February 10th, which ended just two days later when Canada Soccer reportedly threatened legal action.

In a statement released on Feb. 12, the players said they were told that if they didn’t go back to work and play the United States in the SheBelieves Cup, there would be legal consequences that could cost millions of dollars in damages.

Players have said facing Canada Soccer is not something they can afford, and threats of costly litigation have brought players back onto the field.

Canada women’s national coach Beverly Priestman, who works for Canada Soccer, highlighted that the coaching staff is in a difficult situation under the current circumstances. However, she did express support for players who stand up for what they believe in.

“What I will say is that I am incredibly proud and honored to represent the group of players that I have in front of me,” Priestman said on a Feb. 15 conference call with reporters. “I think what comes out loud and clear to me is that they’re not just fighting for themselves and for the next six months. I think what’s really strong for this group is making sure the next generation of gamers has the same opportunity to represent themselves and perform at the highest level, as do their peers.”

USWNT Shows Solidarity at SheBelieves Cup

Canada wasn’t left out of the SheBelieves Cup match against the United States, but the players still tried to get their message across. The Canadian team wore “basta” on their purple jerseys prior to the match. The US women’s team also joined them in midfield for a moment of solidarity.

The USWNT Players Association also shared a pre-competition message, noting that they are “already on the other side of this fight” but know what Canada is going through.

Last year, the US men’s and women’s teams signed collective bargaining agreements that run through 2028 and set a standard for equal pay through “identical economic terms.”

“We stand with all female soccer players calling attention to their collective fight, but we also call on everyone to unite and support the fight to eradicate ALL inequality and discrimination that exists in our sport,” she said. read the statement from the USWNT Players Association.

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