Canada’s World Cup team this week set aside a bitter and long-running feud with its national federation by agreeing to an interim pay deal that will ensure the players receive prize money from the Women’s World Cup.
The deal, reached on Monday, was announced by the team on social media on Friday. It will ensure that the team will receive a share of the increased prize money pool from the federation, Canada Soccer. But the players left little doubt that they had agreed to the deal grudgingly.
“We have been forced to choose between receiving a fair share of the rewards from our teams’ successes at the World Cup and our commitment to equal pay and equal treatment with our men’s national team,” the team said in its statement. “These are choices we should not have to make.”
“We are deeply disappointed to find ourselves without a more complete agreement at this crucial stage in our calendar,” the team added, saying it had done its best to reach a deal “that ensures, at minimum, equal pay with our men’s national team, within the constraints created by Canada Soccer’s financial situation.”
For more than a year, Canada’s women’s national team players have demanded that their federation provide them with equal pay, equal treatment and equal working conditions compared to Canada’s men’s team. In February, with the players exhausted by months of failed negotiations and outraged by recent budget cuts, the simmering feud boiled over. The team briefly went on strike before a game against the United States, and then took the field for a match wearing shirts emblazoned with the words “Enough is enough.”
In the months since, the Canadian soccer federation revealed that it lost more than $6 million in 2022, a year in which its men’s team played in the World Cup. Its interim leader, Jason De Vos, said the organization was exploring options that included filing for bankruptcy.
Those budget issues dogged the preparations of the women’s team, the reigning Olympic champion, for a Women’s World Cup in which it had expected to contend for the title. Canada did not hold a sendoff match before leaving for Australia, where it has managed only a tie and a narrow win in its first two games.
Even now, the team is not assured of a place in the knockout stages of the competition. And while the new deal will at least guarantee the players will get a cut of the prize money, the team said its larger fight would continue.
“This isn’t over,” the players declared. “We and the men’s national team remain committed to finding a long-term solution that provides for fair and equal treatment for our current national teams and investments in the future of Canadian soccer.”
The players said they would not discuss the matter again until after the World Cup. “For now,” they wrote, “our team just wants to focus on soccer.”