Canada Soccer president steps down after claims of unequal treatment by women’s team

The president of the Canadian soccer federation resigned Monday following accusations by the women’s national team of unequal and inequitable treatment.

Nick Bontis said he was resigning immediately, acknowledging “this moment requires change.”

“Canada Soccer and both of our National Team Programs have the real potential to sign a historic collective bargaining agreement,” he wrote. “Once signed, it will be a landmark deal that will set our nation apart from virtually every other FIFA Member Association.

“While I have been one of the biggest proponents of equalizing the competitive performance environment for our Women’s National Team, I will unfortunately not be leading this organization when it happens.”

Resignation follows strike threat

Bontis’ resignation comes less than two weeks after the women’s team tried to strike during the SheBelieves Cup over budget cuts that left the Olympic champions with significantly fewer resources ahead of this summer’s World Cup than the Canadian men had ahead of their World Cup last year.

The women said they can invite fewer players into training camps and have had their number of staff members cut. They also said they’ve been told they won’t play any home games ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Informed they weren’t legally allowed to strike, Canada played in the SheBelieves Cup under protest instead, turning their warmup shirts inside out so the Canada logo could not be seen. They also came out for the national anthem before their first game, against the U.S. women, in purple shirts with “Enough is enough” written in big, bold letters.

The U.S. women and other national teams around the world wore purple wristbands in support of the Canadian women.

“To everyone who has supported us as we started this fight…the fans, players, coaches, thank you. We are inspired and motivated… and we will win,” the team’s players union said last week on Twitter.

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Canada players wear “enough is enough” shirts during the national anthem before the match against Brazil at Geodis Park during the SheBelieves Cup on Feb. 19, 2023.

Women’s team not alone in criticism of federation

The Canadian women are being backed by the men’s national team, which had its own issues with the federation last year. The Canadian men boycotted a June friendly against Panama in a protest over pay and what it said was the federation’s lack of transparency about its finances.

Much of the dispute stems from a deal between Canada Soccer and Canada Soccer Business, which runs that country’s professional league, that gives CSB a significant portion of the federation’s revenues in exchange for a guaranteed fee each year. The players say Canada Soccer is giving away money that should be used to develop the game, and squandering an opportunity to capitalize on growing interest in the game.

In addition to the women’s gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, the men qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years. Canada is also co-hosting the men’s World Cup in 2026 with the United States and Mexico.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Canadian women get victory as soccer federation president resigns

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