Canada’s national soccer teams call for investigation into Canada Soccer’s governance

By Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Canada’s national women’s and men’s soccer teams have asked Sport Canada, an arm of the country’s federal government, to investigate the sport’s national governing body following serious allegations about how decisions are made in the within the organization.

In a statement shared by Olympic gold medalist Christine Sinclair on Twitter on Wednesday, the players said they were “deeply disturbed” by recent reporting on the “inner workings of Canada Soccer” by The Sports reporter Rick Westhead. Network (TSN) of Canada.

The report, which cites four unnamed sources, reveals that Canada Soccer has been unable to adequately compensate players due to a contract it signed with a private company called Canada Soccer Business (CSB), which retains much of the revenue generated by national teams. .

No deal has been reached and the two sides also remain at odds over bonus money for the men’s team at the upcoming Men’s World Cup in Qatar, TSN reported on Tuesday.

But Canada Soccer told CNN that ongoing negotiations with its national teams “have no bearing on the CSB agreement voted and adopted by our board of directors.”

“The CSB agreement does not contain any clause relating to player competition prize money. The two issues are separate,” Paulo Senra, a Canada Soccer spokesperson, told CNN in an email.

Canada Soccer has not commented to CNN on the allegations criticizing their governance practices.

Neither the Canadian Premier League, which launched Canadian Soccer Business in 2018, nor Sport Canada responded to CNN’s request for comment. On Wednesday, Canada’s men’s and women’s teams released a joint statement asking Sport Canada to investigate Canada Soccer’s governance practices and the circumstances surrounding the agreement reached with CSB.

Sport Canada funds national sport organizations across the country, including Canada Soccer.

The statement adds that the investigation must examine the motives of those involved in the CSB deal and examine why the deal remained in place when board members reportedly expressed concern.

Both national teams have asked to be “properly consulted” on key decisions taken by the governing body that affect them.

Senra told CNN that a board meeting was held on March 27, 2018, and members discussed and approved the CSB deal, after reviewing the deal prior to the meeting.

Canada Soccer discussed its partnership with CSB in a statement on Tuesday, saying it was “proud of this historic partnership” which it said would “help develop and grow the game of soccer across the country.”

The federation also said that after previously engaging its men’s and women’s national teams independently in contract negotiations, it had prioritized ‘fairness and equal pay’ in its ongoing negotiations with players. .

Negotiations with the men’s national team were ongoing, the federation said, and an updated offer was made on June 23. “The same offer is in front of our women’s national team,” the statement read.

But the players said the statement “unsuccessfully attempts to put a positive spin on what the article reveals” and “fails to confirm that Canada Soccer will immediately open its books and records and address its lack of transparency in the game.” ‘coming”.

He added: “Given that Canada Soccer does not recognize any governance or leadership issues, nor does it commit to resolving the issues identified in the article.”

Canada’s men are set to take part in this year’s World Cup, to be held in Qatar from November to December, after qualifying for football’s biggest tournament for the first time in 36 years.

FIFA, the governing body of world football, has allocated $440 million in prize money. Teams eliminated in the group stages will each receive $9 million, while each competing country will receive $1.5 million before the start of the tournament to cover preparation costs. The more teams progress, the more prize money they will receive, with winners taking home $42 million.

In June, the men’s national team went on strike ahead of a friendly with Panama over a dispute over player pay.

In an open letter posted by TSN’s Westhead on Twitter, the men’s team said they wanted 40% of the World Cup prize money, a friends and family travel package for the tournament and a “structure fair with our women’s national team who share the same player match”. fees, the percentage of prize money won at our respective FIFA World Cups and the development of a national women’s league.

In its statement on Wednesday, Canada Soccer said such demands were “untenable” and not “financially viable” due to the federation’s commitment to pay the women’s national team the same percentage as the men for each tournament. major. The statement added that Canada Soccer is committed to finding a solution.

In an email to CNN on Thursday, Canada Soccer spokesperson Senra said the federation’s new general secretary had offered to meet with the women’s team and their representatives in Mexico, following the conclusion of the Concacaf Championships. W, which serve as a qualifying tournament for the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2024 Paris Olympics.

“We continue to engage in open and transparent conversations with our two teams with the goal of finding a solution based on the values ​​of fairness and equal pay,” he added.

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