The Canadian women's national soccer team went on a short-lived strike due to a lack of financial support just months before the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
On Friday, the players on the women's national team released a statement outlining their concerns. In their message, the players cite a major disparity between the resources the men received prior to the 2022 World Cup and what they have been given.
"We have been patiently negotiating with Canada Soccer for over a year," the players said in a statement. "Now that our World Cup is approaching, the Women's National Team players are being told to prepare at a world-class level without the same level of support that was received by the Men's National Team in 2022, and with significant cuts to our program - to simply make due with less.
"This is an unacceptable burden to put on the shoulders of our players, especially in the most crucial cycle for our team. We are left feeling frustrated and, once again, deeply disrespected by Canada Soccer."
The strike would come to an end on Saturday evening, with the players issuing another statement explaining that Canada Soccer had considered theirs to be an unlawful strike that carried with it legal and financial consequences if they did not cease and desist.
An update from the Canadian Soccer Players Association pic.twitter.com/hysGyanG5q— CanadianSoccerPlayers (@PlayersCanadian) February 12, 2023
"They told us that if we did not return to work -- and did not commit today to playing in Thursday's game against the United States -- they would not only take legal action to force us back to the pitch but would consider taking steps to collect what could be millions of dollars in damages from our Players' Association and from each of the individual players currently in camp," read the statement. "As individual players who have received no compensation yet for any of our work for Canada Soccer in 2022, we cannot afford the risks that personal action against us by Canada Soccer will create.
"Because of this, we have advised Canada Soccer that we will return to training tomorrow and will play in the SheBelieves Cup as scheduled."
Canadian soccer star Janine Beckie had previously spoken with TSN's Rick Westhead about the strike, saying that the team had finally reached its breaking point.
"Saying that we're outraged is an understatement," Beckie said. "There's not really words to describe how it feels to be here in camp with the national team and know we are not being given the same resources that our men's team was given last year to prepare for their World Cup... I don't like the word fair. But it is so incredibly unfair to the women, and the staff, and to everyone that supports this team, works for this team, is a fan of this team. We've had enough. It's way, way, too far gone."
Canada's national soccer teams have taken strides forward in recent years, especially on the women's side. In 2021, the women's national team captured its first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, and they are currently ranked as the No. 6 team in the world with the World Cup on the horizon.
Forward Adriana Leon called out Canada Soccer for trying to cut funding, even as the women's national team continues to reach new heights.
"At a loss for words for how Canada Soccer continues to conduct themselves and how they continue to get away with it," Leon tweeted. "Six months away from the biggest stage and we are essentially being told that the federation is broke. We are Olympic Gold medalists, ranked #6 in the world, we sell out stadiums and we are still working backwards in 2023. With the current governance, I worry for future generations...Where is the money going???"
The Canadian women have already received support from U.S. women's national team star Alex Morgan. She echoed Leon's sentiment and called on Canada Soccer to do more for the program.
What do they have to do, win a gold medal? Sell out stadiums? Oh wait...— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) February 10, 2023
It's 2023, wake up @CanadaSoccerEN you're on the clock ⏰ https://t.co/eOeZpBs3Ib
The Canadian men's national team has also issued a statement in which it stands behind the women in their battle for equality. The men's national team took aim at Canada Soccer for "financial and other mismanagement" and called the treatment of the women's team "outrageous."
A message from #CANMNT 🍁 pic.twitter.com/7OQEJg7FMN— Mark-Anthony Kaye (@MarkThEwizz) February 10, 2023
Canada Soccer had responded with a statement of its own, and said that equitable compensation for the women's team is "at the core of our ongoing player negotiations." The organization said it would be meeting with the women's national team for further discussions in Orlando, Fla. on Saturday, which yielded Saturday evening's eventual resolution.
Canada Soccer Statement. pic.twitter.com/FfKf2So3PW— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) February 11, 2023
The Canadian women will now participate in the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando next weekend. Their first game is slated for Thursday evening against the United States.