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Soccer

Why is Canada’s national soccer team protesting ahead of World Cup?

Canada Soccer is set to receive between $10 million and $15 million from FIFA for its World Cup participation this winter.

Kieran Quaile
Update:
TORONTO, ON- MARCH 27  - Canada huddles before the game as Canada beats Jamaica in FIFA CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying 4-0 to Qualify for the World Cup in Qatar in BMO Field in Toronto. March 27, 2022.        (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Steve RussellGetty

Canada’s men’s national team’s friendly against Panama was canceled less than two hours before the game’s scheduled start time on Sunday amid a player protest regarding World Cup compensation.

On Friday, players skipped their country’s scheduled training session and decided against attending Saturday’s session.

The players and federation met on Saturday night following the publicised release of the protest. Both parties remained at a standstill after a “transparent” conversation between the two sides.

No agreement on World Cup package

The players and Canada Soccer are still some way apart, with a report from TSN suggesting the players had asked for a 40% cut of World Cup revenues with the association offering just 10% of the FIFA package.

Canada Soccer is set to receive between $10 million and $15 million from FIFA for its World Cup participation this winter.

Negotiations between the players and federation began following Canada’s qualification to the World Cup on 27 March, but talks didn’t get underway again until this international window.

After the cancelled friendly with Panama, Canada Soccer held a press conference with president Nick Bontis and acting secretary general Earl Cochrane at BC Place on Sunday.

Bontis: “We presented a fair offer”

“We would like to have a fact-based discussion within the fiscal reality that Canada Soccer has to live with every day,” said Bontis. “Canada Soccer is committed to the principles of fairness and equity and we believe we presented a fair offer to the players. We benchmarked our offer against other national teams from around the world. On the issue of gender equity raised in the players’ letter, Canada Soccer’s offer also committed to provide the exact same terms to our women’s national team. As we move forward, Canada Soccer’s strategic commitment is to support all of our programs, from grassroots, right through to the elite first teams.”

Bad timing for Canada

The compensation disagreement between the sides is coming at the wrong time for the Canadian national team ahead of this year’s 2022 World Cup, with preparations being affected.

Canada are set to face Curacao in their Nations League opener at BC Place on Thursday before playing Honduras in San Pedro Sula on 13 June. It remains to be seen if they turn up to play Curacao.

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