Players on the Canada women’s national soccer team want their pay dispute with their national federation settled before they leave for the 2023 World Cup next week.
The pre-tournament camp is scheduled to start on June 28 in Australia, with the tournament kicking off on July 20. Canada captain Christine Sinclair told the Canadian Press that players want to get a deal done so that they don’t have the issue hanging over their heads throughout the World Cup.
And while the team hasn’t reached its breaking point yet, time is running out.
“We’re not at a point where we’re not getting on a plane, but time’s coming where we want it done so as players we’re not having to deal with it while we’re trying to prepare,” Sinclair told the Canadian Press.
Sinclair is not expecting a long-term solution to the long-standing battle for pay equity and funding.
“But us as a women’s team have flat out told the CSA (Canada Soccer Association) that we need a deal in place for at least the World Cup and this year before we head down there,” she said. “I think it will happen. Will it be a long-term deal? No. But something will be done before the World Cup starts.”
The women’s team has been without a labor deal since its previous one expired at the end of 2021. Earlier this year, players threatened it sit out the SheBelieves Cup before being strong-armed into playing the tournament by their federation.
In March, the two sides agreed to an interim deal, which covered the period of time in 2022 for which team members had not been paid. But players said there remained “a lot of work to be done.”
A permanent deal has not been reached due to a number of factors, the players’ association said at the time, including repeated failure by Canada Soccer to properly disclose financial numbers as well as the fight by the women’s team for an agreement that “establishes fair and equitable standards.”
Players did take part in the April FIFA window after saying they would only do so provided that “meaningful progress” has been made in negotiations. Still, a final deal has not been reached; the Canada men’s national team also is still negotiating its contract.
The reigning Olympic gold champion, Canada enters the final month of World Cup preparation among the top 10 contenders, according to the betting odds.
“I don’t know all the details on the men’s side of things but we’re fighting the same fight,” Sinclair said. “I think us as players, we fear that we as national teams could get left behind when you see the support that other federations are putting into their teams, putting into their youth programming, putting into professional leagues.
“If we want to remain relevant, yes, some things are going to have to change.”