Canada women in equality fight ‘for the long haul’

Canada women in equality fight ‘for the long haul’

Canada’s women’s side say they will boycott a team camp in April if their demands over funding cuts and pay inequality are not met.

The players say they are taking part at this month’s four-nation SheBelieves Cup “under protest”.

They called off a planned strike this week because of threats of legal action by the Canada Soccer Association (CSA).

“Playing in this tournament is a short-term solution,” said captain Christine Sinclair.

“There’s a Fifa window coming up in April where we have said that if things are not just addressed, if things aren’t fixed, we’ll not be going to that camp.”

The CSA says it has a “proven track record” of supporting women’s football, adding pay equality was “at the core” of negotiations with the national team players.

The CSA spent $11m on the men’s programme in 2021 and $5.1m on the women’s programme.

The women’s players said the “disgusting” discrepancy between the Canada men’s and women’s soccer programmes became apparent at last year’s men’s World Cup in Qatar.

Canada’s men, who went on strike in June 2022 after accusing the governing body of “disrespect” over World Cup prize money, competed in the tournament for the first time in 37 years.

Forward Janine Beckie, who worked in Qatar as an analyst for Canadian television, said the disparity went beyond just salaries, citing a men’s staff that was double the size of the women’s.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” said former Manchester City player Beckie.

“What we’re asking for are fundamental changes in the way the CSA operates in order to operate our national teams at a world-class level.

“It’s been a really, really difficult couple of days specifically, and a really difficult camp, and it’s just been really hard to be here under these circumstances.”

Canada are sixth in the world rankings and won Olympic gold in 2021.

Canada will face the United States – the reigning world champions – in the opening match of the SheBelieves Cup on 17 February.

The next Women’s World Cup takes place from 20 July to 20 August in Australia and New Zealand. (BBC)

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