Canadian’s women’s soccer players say they will play after federation threatened them with legal action
The Canadian national women’s soccer team will play in the SheBelieves Cup next week, and they are saying it will not be by choice.
One day after the players publicly threatened to strike over a lack of support from their Canada Soccer, their Canadian Soccer Players Association released a statement claiming the federation had threatened legal action against them should they not suit up for Thursday’s opener against the United States, which it said would be an “unlawful strike.”
Specifically, the players said the federation had warned them it “would not only take legal action to force us back to the pitch but would consider taking steps to collect what could be millions of dollars in damages from our Players’ Association and from each of the individual players currently in camp.”
In light of the potential legal repercussions, the players said they told the federation they would return to training Sunday and play in the four-team tournament as scheduled.
Canada captain Christine Sinclair added onto the tweet by plainly stating they were being “forced back to work” and the SheBelieves Cup was being played under protest. Both she and the players’ statement indicated the dispute isn’t over.
In their statement released Friday, the players said they were “both outraged and deeply concerned” about a lack of support from Canada Soccer, which they claimed forced them to cut full training camp windows and the number of players and staff.
They added that they had were “literally” told the federation cannot fund the women’s national team, which won a gold medal at the Olympics in 2021, six months before the 2023 World Cup.
In a response, the federation touted its “proven track record of supporting women’s soccer” with limited examples, while the men’s national team, which also refused to train last year amid a contract dispute, expressed support for the women.
Canada Soccer Players Association’s full statement on SheBelieves Cup
Yesterday, our Players’ Association announced that we were taking action in response to Canada Soccer’s significant cuts to our national team programs less than six months in advance of the World Cup.
Representatives of the Players’ Association met with Canada Soccer this afternoon for an hours-long meeting in which the concerns of the players were discussed in detail.
Prior to that meeting, Canada Soccer told us that they consider our job action to be an unlawful strike. They told us that if we did not return to work – and did not commit today to playing in Thursday’s game against the United States – they would not only take legal action to force us back to the pitch but would consider taking steps to collect what could be millions of dollars in damages from our Players’ Association and from each of the individual players currently in camp.
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. Because of this, we have advised Canada Soccer that we will return to training tomorrow and will play in the SheBelieves Cup as scheduled.
We continue to believe that Canada Soccer’s cuts to the national team programs – especially right before our World Cup – are unacceptable. We continue to believe that Canada Soccer needs to do more to support our programs and our players. And we continue to believe that unless we stand up together and demand more, nothing will ever change.