Sophie Schmidt and Sabrina D’Angelo of Canada look on as they wear purple shirts that read, “Enough is Enough” prior to the 2023 SheBelieves Cup match against the U.S.
Image: Getty Images

Canada’s national women’s soccer team is the reigning Olympic Gold medalist. There is no reason why they should be taking a budget cut. There is no reason that they should be getting paid less than their male counterparts. There is no reason they should not be supported, especially as they are the best their team has ever been.

On Feb. 10, the Canadian Soccer Players Association issued a statement, voicing their disappointment in the budget cuts and lack of funding. We are six months away from the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and Canada can’t fund its team that has been dominant over the last 10 years? They are Olympic champions. It’s outrageous, it’s unfair, and it’s a terrible look.

The statement also discusses that these talks between the players and the organization have been going on for about a year. The budget cuts have left players with fewer training sessions, some training windows completely wiped from the calendar and fewer players and staff members invited to train. The players also have alleged that they haven’t been paid at all for their 2022 season.

“It hurts, I’m not going to lie,” Team Canada captain Christine Sinclair told TSN on Feb. 10. “We all represent this country proudly. We’ve shared some of the greatest moments together. But to not feel that support from your own federation has been hard in the past. But it’s gotten to a point where, at least for me personally, until this is resolved I can’t represent this federation. I’m such a competitor that breaks my heart and kills me.”

Team Canada’s protests have already started. They have been training all week with their shirts inside out and wore purple warm-up shirts, with “Enough is Enough” written on them before their first game of the SheBelieves Cup on Feb. 16, where they lost 2-0 to the United States. The Canadian National Team is also threatening to not play again after this tournament, effectively going on strike until an agreement is made, or new management steps in.

Equal pay debate

The most recent and arguably largest movement in the equal pay debate was with the USWNT, whose lawsuit was settled in February of last year. The skinny of the lawsuit and all the details are essentially that the women weren’t getting paid as much as the men’s national team, which posed a huge problem because the women won two straight World Cups, and at that time, the men hadn’t really had much to show. They were able to get a new CBA where they are guaranteed the same amount of money as the men’s team, and a settlement worth $24 million.

“There’s no real justice in this other than this never happening again,” midfielder Megan Rapinoe told ESPN at the time. “With the settlement of the working conditions and this settlement which is contingent upon a CBA that will have equal pay going forward, there’s no other way to look at it than just a monumental win for women’s sports and women’s soccer, in particular.”

But then it happened again. This time, with the neighbors to the north.

Rapinoe and teammates Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn have publicly shared their support for Team Canada.

“We’re with them 100 percent and obviously know exactly what they’re going through, how difficult it is to do all that off the field and have to perform,” Rapinoe said on Feb. 15.

Before the game on Thursday, the players from both the USWNT and the Canada WNT had a moment of solidarity together, joining at the center circle.

This is a problem that we have seen in women’s sports for a long time. Each time, there is a sign heard around the world that implies something along the lines of “disappointed, but not surprised.” It shouldn’t be this hard to make things equal, so why are we running into these problems?

It’s hard to pinpoint. You could call it systemic, as historically women have made less than men. You could also say that it should have never happened and there is no reason for professional female athletes to be making less in the first place. Canada deserves better, women’s sports deserve better. This is a reminder that the fight for equality is not over.


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