Four women’s national soccer team players to testify in Ottawa
Christine Sinclair, Janine Beckie, Sophie Schmidt, and Quinn will testify in person in Ottawa on March 9 before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, a source confirmed to TSN.
The players will discuss their ongoing labour dispute with Canada Soccer, which attracted public attention last month after the team said it was going on strike less than a week before they were scheduled to play in the SheBelieves Cup over pay equity issues and budget cuts.
The players returned to the field a day later, saying Canada Soccer had threatened to sue both the Canadian Soccer Players' Association (CPSA) and the players who were attending a team camp in Florida.
National team players still have not been paid for 2022 and have a number of issues about their working conditions. They say that Canada Soccer has not scheduled a game in Canada for them before the Women’s World Cup in July and August in Australia and New Zealand, and that the cuts to their budget are so bad that there isn’t enough money to properly prepare for games in the latter part of the year.
For instance, before the SheBelieves Cup, there was only enough money for Canada Soccer to bring 20 players to camp, not enough to run proper 11-on-11 drills, a source told TSN. In past years, at least 24 players have attended training camps.
Canada Soccer is also in a labour dispute with the national men’s team, and still has not agreed to a deal on how it will split the $10 million bonus the team earned for qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar.
Two MPs who are on the Heritage Committee said they expect that even though Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis resigned this week, he would still be called to testify, probably alongside general secretary Earl Cochrane. Their testimony may happen as soon as March 20, the MPs said, adding that more hearings to scrutinize Canada Soccer are possible.
On Monday afternoon, both senior national teams released a joint statement calling Bontis’ exit “one necessary step.”
“Canada Soccer must also respond to the Players’ Associations’ requests for proper, transparent and comprehensive access to its financial records, particularly in light of recent budget cuts to the very programs that have generated unprecedented sponsor interest in supporting the national teams,” the statement said. “It needs to address the unauthorized use still being made of national team player images. It needs to take immediate action to address the untenable financial constraints imposed by its agreement with [Canadian Soccer Business], once and for all.”
The players wrote that rumours already are circulating about who Canada Soccer’s next elected president might be.
“We, the national team players, call on Canada Soccer’s board to consult immediately and meaningfully with the national teams on the best path forward, before Mr. Bontis’ permanent successor is named,” the players wrote.