Canada’s men go on strike forcing Panama friendly to be called off
The Canadian men’s national team went on strike on Sunday, forcing a friendly with Panama to be called off.
The team’s refusal to play revolves around a dispute with the country’s football association, Canada Soccer.
Canada have qualified for the 2022 World Cup for only the second time.
The players released a letter on Sunday accusing Canada Soccer of “disrespecting” the team in relation to negotiations around World Cup prize money.
Among several issues outlined in the letter is a request for an equitable pay structure, along with the women’s national team, that would see them earn 40 percent of World Cup prize money.
There are conflicting reports around the percentage of World Cup prize money the players have been offered by Canada Soccer
TSN first reported that national team players had been offered about 10 percent of the total amount the country would get from Fifa, set to be at least $10 million (£8m).
On Saturday, Canada Soccer told TSN its offer was 60 percent to be split equally between players on the men’s and women’s teams.
“To be clear, the men’s national team demand was for 75-100 percent of the World Cup prize money,” Canada Soccer said in a statement.
“The association, in an effort to adhere to the principle of pay equity, proposed 60 percent of the Fifa World Cup prize money to be split between the two national teams (i.e., 30 percent + 30 percent to the players of each team) and 40 percent for the association.
“The association believes that this proposal follows the principles of fairness and equity.”
Players also were reportedly upset about Canada Soccer’s arrangements for players’ families at the World Cup in Qatar, with only two family tickets offered per player.
Canada are due to play Curacao in the Concacaf Nations League on Thursday.
“Canada Soccer has disrespected our team and jeopardised our efforts to raise the standards and effectively advance the game in Canada,” read the letter released by the players, which apologised to Canadian and Panamanian fans.
“We hope Canada Soccer will take decisive steps to work with our team so we can be back on the field for our match on June 9.”