Canada coach John Herdman quit when the issue of the men’s and women’s ongoing labor dispute with Canada Soccer surfaced in his pre-match availability Monday ahead of their CONCACAF Nations League clash with Honduras.
“I was just wondering, as a former coach of the women’s national team, how would you feel when you heard former (Football Canada) president Nick Bontis describe the demands of the women’s team as ‘grumbling?’” was the question.
It took about 10 seconds to get an answer.
“I think frustrated. Very frustrated,” Herdman said sadly.
“How hard is it these days to coach with all the Canadian Football drama hanging around the team?” is a follow-up question.
Pause for about six seconds this time.
“Yeah, it wasn’t easy, considering I think everything that everybody put into the program over the last 10 12, 13, 14, 15, 20 years,” Herdman said. “There are many people (who have) sacrificed a lot. We have worked hard to reach this moment, it is very difficult to reach this moment. it has to be different.”
The initial question referred to comments made on March 9 by Canadian captain Christine Sinclair before a parliamentary committee.
“On a personal note I have never been more insulted than the president of Canada Soccer himself, Nick Bontis last year when we met with him to discuss our concerns,” said Sinclair. “I was tasked with outlining our compensation request on behalf of the women’s national team. The President of Football Canada listened to what I had to say and later in the meeting referred back to the question as ‘What is Christine booing about?’
“This speaks volumes to me about the lack of respect Canadian Football has for its women’s national team. As a team, we don’t trust Canada Soccer to be open and honest as we continue to negotiate not only fair and equitable compensation and treatment, but also for the future of our programme.”
Bontis stepped down as president of Football Canada on February 27, acknowledging changes were needed to achieve labor peace.
Bontis, Canadian Football Finance Chief Sean Heffernan and CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani are scheduled to appear before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage on Thursday. Montagliani, a Vancouver native, is a former president of Football Canada who is currently vice president of FIFA and chairman of CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Canadian Football Secretary General Earl Cochrane and two members of the board have appeared virtually before a parliamentary committee.
The six-ranked women’s team, which formed the Canadian Soccer Players Association in 2016, has had no employment deal since the last one ended at the end of 2021. They had reached an agreement in principle with Football Canada on compensation for 2022 but said other issues had not been resolved. .
The 53rd-ranked man, who organized last summer as the Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association, is working on their first formal employment agreement.
Both teams have taken working action on their dissatisfaction at the labor standoff.
The men boycotted a planned friendly against Panama last June in Vancouver. And the women’s team briefly dropped the tool before the SheBelieves Cup in February before being forced back onto the pitch under threats of legal action from Canada Soccer.
Herdman coached the Canadian women from 2011 to 2018, leading them to two Olympic bronze before taking over the men’s programme.
The Canadian men hosted the No. 81 Honduras on Tuesday at BMO Field, looking to win their CONCACAF Nations League group and progress to the last four of the tournament in Vancouver in June.
—Neil Davidson, Canadian Press
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