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Christine Sinclair: Canada ‘forced’ to play amid pay dispute

(Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Canada women’s national team is being forced to play in the SheBelieves Cup after Canada Soccer used union busting tactics to end the team’s strike.

The CANWNT began their strike on Friday over budget cuts, equal pay issues and lack of support from Canada Soccer. They had threatened to boycott the SheBelieves Cup if the issues were not resolved.

The two sides met on Saturday in what the players described as an “hours-long meeting.” But it was before that meeting that Canada Soccer informed the players that “they consider our job action to be an unlawful strike.”

Canada Soccer threatened to take legal action against them if they did not commit to playing in Thursday’s game against the USWNT. They also threatened to take steps to collect “what could be millions of dollars in damages” from both the players’ association and individual players.

“As individual players who have received no compensation yet for any of our work for Canada Soccer in 2022, we cannot afford the risks that personal action against us by Canada Soccer will create,” they wrote.

In a statement, Canada Soccer said that the players “were not and are not in a legal strike position under Ontario labour law.”

“Canada Soccer therefore took the necessary steps to ensure that such games will be played as scheduled,” they said.

National team player Janine Beckie told The Athletic that on Feb. 6 the team filed a “no-board” request to their conciliator that was essentially a request to strike. But as it has yet to be approved, resulting in it being unlawful. In Canada, an unlawful strike can be punishable by “substantial fines.”

But players maintain that the fight is not over.

“To be clear,” wrote captain Christine Sinclair. “We are being forced back to work for the short term. This is not over. We will continue to fight for everything we deserve and we will win. The SheBelieves is being played in protest.”