After announcing a strike last week, the Canada women’s national team (CanWNT) will play the SheBelieves Cup in protest against Soccer Canada. Both sides met in Orlando on Saturday to discuss the players’ concerns over budget cuts and equal pay issues. The outcome was nowhere close to what the CanWNT was looking for.
According to the Canadian Soccer Players Association, Soccer Canada considered the strike to be “unlawful” and threatened to sue the players association and individual players for millions of dollars if they didn’t commit to play against the USWNT. Because the CanWNT haven’t been paid for their work in 2022, the players can’t afford to pay Canada Soccer that money. The players returned to training and will be playing the tournament in protest.
To be clear. 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. https://t.co/1CmXU3CiYp— Christine Sinclair (@sincy12) February 12, 2023
Shortly after meeting with Soccer Canada over the SheBelieves strike, Sophie Schmidt posted a statement on Twitter that stated she would not represent Soccer Canada until the raised issues became resolved. Schmidt currently has 218 appearances for Canada, second of all-time behind Christine Sinclair. Jeff Kassouf reports that after Schmidt posted her statement, she approached head coach Bev Priestman and informed her that she wanted to retire from international play and fly home. Priestman asked her to “sleep on it.” Schmidt ultimately decided to stay with the team but will retire after the World Cup.
What to expect during SheBelieves and beyond
The CanWNT intends to play in the SheBelieves tournament, but they will also keep fighting for better treatment from Soccer Canada. Sinclair announced that the team will not play the April international window if their demands aren’t met. Today, the players trained with their shirts inside out, hiding the Soccer Canada crest. The USWNT did the same during their famous fight for equal pay in 2020.
Canada players come out for training in Orlando with training tops turned inside out to cover the Canada Soccer logo #canwnt pic.twitter.com/24FXa37lR6— Steph Yang | Horrible Soccer Goose (@thrace) February 15, 2023
What can viewers expect for tomorrow’s SheBelieves match between Canada and the U.S.? The CanWNT has something planned, but they are not giving any hints about what it is. Fans are speculating that Canada may lose on purpose or that they may call Canada Soccer’s bluff and refuse to play after all. The SheBelieves Cup will be streamed on HBO Max, Universo, and Peacock. Brazil vs. Japan kicks off at 4:00 ET, and Canada vs. the U.S. kicks off at 7:00 ET.
Player reps from Canada speaking to the media ahead of tomorrow’s game vs. USA. No spoilers for whatever they have planned for tomorrow, but definitely sounds like something will happen. pic.twitter.com/OwtGhrFEvG— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) February 15, 2023
Do you think the CanWNT will boycott tomorrow’s match after all? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Follow me on Twitter and check out Beyond Women’s Sports for more women’s sports coverage. Want to start watching the NWSL and WSL? You can do that here.