Soccer-Canada women’s team is on strike over pay equity issues, Sinclair says

(Reuters) – Canada’s women’s soccer team will go on strike with immediate effect amid concerns from the country’s soccer association over pay equity and budget cuts, captain Christine Sinclair said on Friday, less than a week before the SheBelieves Cup.

Canada, the reigning Olympic champions, meet the United States in their first game of the SheBelieves Cup, which begins February 16 and also features Brazil and Japan.

But team players said in a statement that governing body Canada Soccer has cut training camp days, full camp windows and the number of players and staff invited to camps, and cut funding for youth teams.

The team’s preparation for the World Cup, scheduled to take place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, will be “marred by Canada Soccer’s continued inability” to support national teams, it added.

Players trained inside shirts on Friday to protest working conditions ahead of the SheBelieves Cup, Sinclair said.

“As a team we have decided to take action and from this point forward we will not be participating in any Football Canada Association activities until this is resolved,” Sinclair told broadcaster TSN, adding that the panel has not yet acted on the demands of the teams have reacted .

However, in a later statement, Canada Soccer said it would meet the women’s team players in Orlando on Saturday, along with its legal counsel, for further discussions.

Canada Soccer has a “proven track record” of supporting women’s soccer, it added.

“Equal pay for our women’s national team is at the heart of our ongoing player negotiations. Canada Soccer will not agree to any deal without them,” it said.

“We submitted an equity-based proposal to our national teams and their lawyers a few months ago and we are still awaiting a final response on the terms of that proposal.”

Sinclair’s international teammate Janine Beckie said, “To say we’re outraged is an understatement.”

She added: “There aren’t really words to describe how it feels to be here in camp with the national team and knowing that we’re not getting the same resources that our men’s team got last year to prepare for theirs received the World Cup.”

For their part, the men’s national team offered support to the women’s team, saying they were “deeply disappointed” by Canada Soccer’s actions.

“Canada Soccer claims it does not have the necessary resources to provide women’s national team players with the working conditions and games they need to prepare for the 2023 Women’s World Cup,” the statement said.

“This is outrageous and requires an immediate and urgent response.”

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


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