Canada’s World Cup warm-up match against Panama was canceled on Sunday, when the men’s team refused to play due to a labor dispute with the nation’s governing body that includes a demand for the women’s national team to get the same match fees.
The players, preparing for the nation’s first men’s World Cup appearance since 1986, refused to train on Friday and Saturday.
The players said they want 40% of the World Cup prize money, a travel package for friends and family and an “equitable structure with our women’s national team sharing the same match fees as the players, the percentage of the prize in cash earned at our respective FIFA World Cups and the development of a domestic women’s league.”
U.S. men’s and women’s national team unions announced agreements May 18 demanding equal pay, including the pooling of World Cup prize money. Canadian men said they want an equal percentage of prize money and equal match fees.
“In March we began contractual discussions with Canada Soccer,” the men’s team said in a statement. “Because executives delayed the process and took vacations, the negotiation process was unnecessarily prolonged. Canada Soccer waited until the evening of July 2 to submit an archaic offer and the association’s general secretary and president only first made themselves available to connect with players on June 4 at 4 p.m. For these reasons, We have reluctantly decided not to play our match today against Panama.
Richard Scott, a spokesman for the Canadian Soccer Association, did not respond to an email seeking comment. The governing body said in a statement late Saturday: “Canada Soccer is currently in discussions with its national team players regarding fair and equitable compensation for players ahead of the FIFA World Cup period.”
FIFA did not respond to a request for comment.
Canada’s women’s team is ranked sixth in the world and won the gold medal at last year’s Olympics.
“I think the players we ask for is fair,” midfielder Jonthan Osorio, a regular who is not on the current roster due to injury, told The Canadian Press. “We don’t want to be treated more special than similar teams that we compare ourselves to. We just want to be respected and not be taken advantage of and given our fair share.”
Osorio, 29, said flights and accommodations have improved since former women’s coach John Herdman became men’s coach in January 2018.
“It’s very different than it was before,” Osorio said. “That said, there is a lot that needs to happen from the federation. I think the players need to see more support from the federation now and not just rely on John to get things done. I think those things will come with results.”
Panama was a late replacement for Sunday’s opponent, which was originally Iran. Canada’s governing body has abandoned Iran following criticism from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Canada is scheduled to play Curaçao in Vancouver on Thursday and is in Honduras on June 13, both in the CONCACAF Nations League. No. 38 Canada opens World Cup Group F in Qatar against second-placed Belgium on November 23, plays No. 16 Croatia four days later and No. 24 Morocco on December 1.