Canada Soccer says its men’s World Cup squad has returned to training after refusing to play an exhibition game against Panama due to tense labor negotiations.
The country’s governing body announced on social media on Monday that the two sides had met the day before. The team returned to training in the afternoon and future meetings have been scheduled.
Canada will face Curacao at BC Place in Vancouver on Thursday in the CONCACAF National League. The federation did not note the upcoming game in its announcement.
The players said in a brief statement on Monday: “We are moving forward in the hope that Canada Soccer will work with us to resolve the situation.
The match against Panama was canceled around two hours before kick-off when the players refused to take the pitch. The players, who are preparing for Canada’s first appearance at the World Cup since 1986, did not practice on Friday or Saturday.
The team released a statement on Sunday outlining its contractual demands, including 40% of World Cup prize money, a friends and family travel package and a “fair structure with our women’s national team who share the same player match fees, percentage of prize money won at our respective FIFA World Cups and the development of a national women’s league.
Players also want transparency with Canadian Soccer Business, which signed an agreement with the federation in 2018 to oversee media rights, sponsorship deals and other commercial assets.
“We want to work with our organization, but the relationship has been strained for years,” the players said in a statement. “And now Canada Soccer has disrespected our team and undermined our efforts to raise the standards and effectively advance the game in Canada.”
The move comes less than a month after unions for the US men’s and women’s teams reached a landmark agreement with US Soccer on equal pay.
Nick Bontis, president of Canada Soccer, called the players’ demands untenable. The federation had proposed its proposal to the teams on Friday.
“Canada Soccer is working in good faith with the players to find a fair and equitable path for all. We would like to have a fact-based discussion within the financial reality that Canada Soccer has to live with every day,” said Bontis. “Canada Soccer is committed to the principles of justice and fairness and we believe we have presented a fair offer to the players. We compared our offer to that of other national teams around the world. On the issue of gender equity, raised in the letter from the players, Canada Soccer’s offer also commits to providing the exact same conditions for our Women’s National Team.
The Canadians are ranked sixth in the world and won Olympic gold last year. The women’s team weighed in on the dispute on Sunday, saying their negotiations with the federation had been ongoing since January.
The statement noted that women do not consider a percentage of World Cup prize money earned by respective teams as equal pay. But the women said they saw the federation’s proposal last week as a step in the process.
“The women’s national team will not accept a deal that does not offer equal pay,” the players said.
Panama were a late replacement as opponents for the men’s team after Canada Soccer called off a game against Iran following criticism from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Canada is also scheduled to visit Honduras on June 13 in a CONCACAF Nations League game. Ranked No. 38 by FIFA, Canada open the World Cup in Qatar against second-ranked Belgium on November 23, face No. 16 Croatia four days later, then face No. 24 Morocco on December 1. .
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