Sports

Canada Soccer and its women’s national team players have reached an interim funding agreement, the sport’s governing body said Thursday.

The terms of the deal, which is retroactive to last season, reflect that of the men’s national team, Canada Soccer said, with per-game incentives and results-based compensation. A final collective bargaining agreement is still under negotiation.

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The women’s national team’s last agreement with Canada Soccer expired in 2021. With an agreement in place, details of the federation’s funding are being finalized by legal counsel from both sides, the announcement said.

“This is about respect, this is about dignity, and this is about equalising the competitive environment in a world that is fundamentally unequal,” Canada Soccer’s general secretary Earl Cochrane said in a statement.

“We have been consistent and public about the need to have fairness and equal pay be pillars of any new agreements with our players, and we are delivering on that today.”

A labour dispute between the governing body and its women’s team had plunged the run-up to the Women’s World Cup into turmoil less than 150 days before the quadrennial tournament kicked off.

The Canadian women, who are seeking equal pay to their male counterparts, claimed they were not compensated for 2022. They said they’ve had to cut training camp days and full camp windows, as well as trim the number of players and staff invited into camps. They were told there would be no home games scheduled before the Women’s World Cup this summer.

The Olympic champions played last month’s SheBelieves Cup under protest after facing the threat of legal action because of their plans to strike over pay equity concerns and budget.

During the anthems before each match, players wore purple shirts that read “Enough is Enough” and then wore purple armbands during the games. The purple was a symbol for equity. American and Japanese players also wore purple armbands in solidarity.

Earlier this week, Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis resigned, saying: “I acknowledge that this moment requires change.”

On Thursday, before the funding agreement with the women was announced, both national teams issued a statement calling the change in leadership “one necessary step” to ensure the success and growth of soccer in Canada.

“However, Canada Soccer must also respond to the players associations’ requests for proper, transparent and comprehensive access to its financial record, 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 two teams called on the federation to work with them on the best path forward before a successor is named.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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