CanWNT stars say labour dispute with Canada Soccer is 'pretty disgusting'
"There is no way we should be facing the current reality that we are facing, so something needs to change."
The Canadian women's national soccer team is not happy with Canada Soccer, and its biggest stars have now made their voices heard.
CanWNT veterans Christine Sinclair, Janine Beckie and Sophie Schmidt held an independent media availability on Tuesday, sharing their disappointment over the governing body's treatment of the women's team vis-a-vis their male counterparts.
“It’s pretty disgusting that we’re having to ask just to be treated equally,” Beckie told reporters. “We’re really sick of it. Now, I don’t get disappointed. I just get angry about it.”
Beckie and her teammates publicly threatened to strike last week ahead of the SheBelieves Cup, taking place in the United States. The Canadian Soccer Players' Association released a statement on their behalf, saying it was "both outraged and deeply concerned" with the lack of support shown towards the women's national squad.
The players are also concerned their preparation for the FIFA Women's World Cup, which takes place in July 2023, is compromised due to budget and personnel cuts.
"We have been told that there will be no home game for our team before the World Cup. We have been told, quite literally, that Canada Soccer cannot adequately fund the women's national team, and they have waited to tell us this until now, when we are less than six months from the World Cup," the statement said.
Canada Soccer threatened legal action if the players refused to report, claiming the team would be participating in an "unlawful strike". The players reluctantly accepted to return to training Sunday and participate in the SheBelieves Cup, which kicks off on Feb. 16.
"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," captain and Canadian soccer legend Sinclair tweeted on Saturday.
Sinclair emphasized that the players will not report for camps leading up to the World Cup if a deal is not reached with the federation soon.
“All we’re asking for is to be given equal opportunity to our men’s team to prepare for the World Cup,” added Beckie. “I was blown away by the number of staff that the men’s team had [at the World Cup in Qatar]. We have maybe half the staff. If that’s the case for the men’s team, Bev [Priestman] should be given every member of staff requested.
“We won the damn Olympic Games and we’re going to the World Cup with a team that can win. We should be fully prepared for that.”
Sinclair is confident that Canada Soccer will live up to its promise to compensate the men's and women's team equally, but admits the inequality goes far beyond pay.
“As player reps, we have no doubt it will happen, but it’s important for us to make sure the public knows that pay is only one small part … it runs much deeper than just what players make per game,” Sinclair said.
“I have been on the team for so long and it has been a constant battle with the CSA leadership,” she added. “There is no way we should be facing the current reality that we are facing, so something needs to change..”
Schmidt, a 34-year-old midfielder who made her debut with the women's senior team in 2005, admitted she contemplated retiring amidst the labour dispute, but was persuaded by teammates and head coach Bev Priestman to postpone her retirement until after the summer's World Cup.
"I promised [Sinclair] I'd fight the fight," an emotional Schmidt said.
“This could be our most important fight as national team players and we are determined to win,” Sinclair said.
Canada kicks off the SheBelieves Cup against the United States on Thursday at 7PM EST.
More from Yahoo Sports