Canada Soccer President Nick Bontis resigned from his position on Monday after a public dispute with the sporting governing body and the men's and women's national teams. The dispute is over funding cuts and pay inequality for the women's team. In February, the women's team demanded “immediate change” from Canada Soccer, calling for equal treatment and funding for the women's program. The women's team threatened to boycott a team camp in April if their demands were not met.
They called off a planned strike earlier this month because of threats of legal action by Canada Soccer (CSA). The players protested against CSA during the recent SheBelieves Cup. They wore purple T-shirts with the phrase "enough is enough" before their matches.
"Enough is enough!" ❌
Ahead of their match in the SheBelieves Cup, USA and Canada showed solidarity as Canada continue to battle against their national federation over equal pay. 🤝 pic.twitter.com/upkL80atCU
— Sky Sports WSL (@SkySportsWSL) February 17, 2023
Canada’s captain Christine Sinclair, wrote on Twitter, ‘We are being forced back to work for the short term. This is not over. We will continue to fight for everything we deserve, and we will win. The She Believes is being played in protest.’
The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) has stated that it has a "proven track record" of supporting women's football and that pay equality was "at the core" of negotiations with the national team players. The CSA spent $11m (£6.72m) on the men's program in 2021 and $5.1m (£3.11m) on the women's program. The women's team has expressed frustration with the discrepancy in funding, citing the difference in support between the men's and women's programs at the 2022 men's World Cup in Qatar.
The Canadian women's national team wore 'Enough is Enough' on their shirts and were joined in solidarity by the USWNT over pay-equity issues with Canada Soccer. pic.twitter.com/Rsv3BCAdOR
— THE SHIFT (@theshift_sports) February 17, 2023
The women's team has called for the same backing for this year's Women's World Cup as the men received before Qatar, where they competed in the tournament for the first time in 37 years. The players had planned to strike earlier this month, but called it off due to threats of legal action by Canada Soccer. During the recent SheBelieves Cup, the players wore purple T-shirts with the phrase "enough is enough" before their matches to protest against the CSA.
Bontis, in a statement announcing his resignation, expressed his belief that the national teams will sign "an historic collective bargaining agreement." He acknowledged that the moment requires change, and that he would not be leading the organization when this agreement happens. Bontis thanked the entire membership, players, sponsors, and Canadian soccer fans for supporting the growth of soccer in the country.
The future of Earl Cochrane as general secretary of Canada Soccer remains unclear. Multiple members of Canada’s men’s national team have previously expressed concern about negotiating a contract with Cochrane.