Canadian Women's National Soccer Team Members Vote to Boycott International Matches

Players will go to arbitration

TORONTO, Feb. 8 /CNW/ - Members of the Canada's Women's National Team have voted unanimously to boycott future international soccer matches until the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) repairs its relationship with their coach, Carolina Morace. 

Members of the women's team fully support Coach Morace and believe that she is an essential component of the success of the women's team. The women's team is insisting that the CSA use its best efforts to resolve any outstanding issues with Carolina so that she will remain with the team.  

The players' decision to boycott international matches comes at a time when the women's team continues to be frustrated with the CSA. For the past two years the women's team has requested that the CSA provide them with a fixed term compensation agreement that provides stability and predictability to players. 

Lawyers representing the Women's National Team intend to file for arbitration this week with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada in the latest effort to resolve the issue.

Members of the women's team have been informed by a number of sources that Canada's men's team operates under a fixed term arrangement with the CSA under which members of the men's team are provided with compensation on a per game basis. In contrast, the women's team players, many of whom have no choice but to continue to live at home with their parents, receive ad-hoc compensation from the CSA. Further, the CSA has failed to disclose to the women's team the terms of the arrangement with the men's team or provide information to justify different treatment. 

This year, women's team members dedicate themselves full-time to the program in preparation for the FIFA Women's World Cup, June 26-July 17 in Germany. They current receive approximately $1,500 per month in regular funding from Sport Canada, or $18,000 a year. The CSA's 2009 annual report indicates it made a $1.2 million operating profit that year and had $3.5 million in total equity, including an $850,000 reserve fund.

In contrast to the Canadian women's team, the U.S. national women's team signed a six-year compensation agreement (2006-2012) that sets out a payment system equivalent to the way the American men's national team is paid.

The women's program is in turmoil. Last weekend it was learned that Coach Morace will step down after the World Cup. Players say a proper compensation policy and control of the women's team budget - part of the coach's agreement - could persuade Morace to reverse her decision and stay on with the highly successful program.

"This is about fairness. Before the CSA moves forward with its 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup bid for Canada, we think we need to get our own house in order," said National Team forward Christine Sinclair, of Burnaby, B.C., who last month was named Most Valuable Player at the 2011 Yongchuan Cup Four-Nation Women's Tournament in Chongqing, China.

"My teammates and I voted unanimously to boycott playing matches because we don't want to lose our coach. The success she has brought to our program the last two years is undeniable," said Sinclair.

Canada's Women's National Team had an 11-game winning streak end Jan. 23, 2011, and is ranked 9th in the world. Canada's men's team is ranked 80th.

Soccer is the most popular amateur sport in Canada (1) by a wide margin. The number of females playing in Canada is growing at a faster rate than males. As of 2008, more than 375,000 females played soccer in Canada; 43 per cent of total players.

"Soccer is the number one amateur sport for children across the country and it is imperative that in soccer, as with all sports, there is gender equality.  The women's team is entitled to know what the arrangements are with the men's team and if there is inequality to have the situation remedied." said Jim Bunting of Davies Ward Phillips Vineberg, who is representing the members of the women's team on a pro bono basis.

The women's team leaves for Rome Feb. 11 to begin training in preparation for the FIFA Women's World Cup. Sinclair said her teammates are committed to training and are hoping to play in upcoming matches, including the Cyprus Cup tournament (Feb. 28-March 10), but will not compete in those matches unless the CSA repairs the relationship with their Coach Carolina Morace.

(1)     (Statistics Canada, General Social Survey

SOURCE Canadian Women's National Soccer Team

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Bill Walker, Fleishman-Hillard Canada

(O) 416-645-8199; (C) 416-451-2809

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