TORONTO — With the World Cup approaching, the Canadian Soccer Association has struck a two-year compensation deal with the women's national team.
The labour peace is in stark contrast to south of the border, where the U.S. women have filed a lawsuit alleging "institutionalized gender discrimination'' that includes unequal pay with their counterparts on the men's national team.
Canada Soccer says its new deal with the women runs through 2020 and covers player payments, performance and roster bonuses for competitions including this summer's World Cup in France as well as image rights use, player appearances, travel and accommodation.
Canada Soccer negotiated the deal with the Canadian Soccer Players' Association, formed in 2016 to formalize negotiations. The agreement essentially covers major tournaments and qualifying competitions as well as performance bonuses.
"Previously we had one-year agreements and we just decided to say let's work towards a two-year agreement that takes us past the Olympics — 2019 and 2020. They agreed," said Peter Montopoli, general secretary of the Canadian Soccer Association.
The goal was to allow the fifth-ranked women to focus on football.
"And really get this done so that the next two years, the next two summers ... their mind is taken off these things that are off the pitch and all they've got to do is concentrate on what (coach) Kenneth (Heiner-Moller) and the players are looking to do on the pitch," Montopoli said in an interview.
The agreement includes the practice of Canada Soccer helping fund the salaries of select national team players in the National Women's Soccer League, a program that covered 11 internationals including captain Christine Sinclair last season.
The amount of salary paid by the CSA is negotiated with the NWSL, with Montopoli saying Canada Soccer covers the majority.
Montopoli says things like per diem are the same for both the Canadian men and women, unlike in the U.S.
"We are happy to have reached a two-year agreement that covers both the FIFA Women's World Cup year, as well (as) the Summer Olympics in 2020," veteran midfielder Diana Matheson, player rep for the Players' Association, said in a statement.
"We appreciate all the work that went into both sides reaching a deal, and I feel it is a very positive step in the relationship between Canada Soccer and our Players' Association. We anticipate continued positive dialogue with Canada Soccer going forward, but for now we can turn all of our focus onto preparations for France 2019."
The Canadian women take on No. 4 England on April 5 in Manchester before returning to Toronto to host No. 26 Mexico on May 18 at BMO Field.
They leave the next day for Europe to prepare for the World Cup, opening June 10 in Montpellier against No. 46 Cameroon.
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