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Reports: Canada Women’s National Team on the Brink of Boycott

posted by All White Kit
Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 11:10am EST

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A Brilliant 2010 for the Canadian Women's National Team Seems To Be The Motive For Change in 2011 - And Justifiably So

A Brilliant 2010 for the Canadian Women’s National Team Seems To Be The Motive For Change in 2011 – And Justifiably So

 2011 hasn’t been too kind to the Canadian Women’s National Team. In just 38 days, the team’s hopeful superstar Kara Lang retired at the tender age of 24, its 11-game unbeaten run was snapped by the U.S. in the Four Nations Tournament and news leaked that head coach Carolina Morace, as well as her staff, intended to leave the program after the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

It’s been a cruel past couple of weeks, particularly after Big Red’s big 2010.

Now it seems like there are one million things separating the team from the tournament’s opening match against hosts Germany in Berlin on July 28, which is expected to set a record for the best-attended women’s soccer match in Europe. And none of them are good.

Tonight news reports surfaced suggesting the team was on the verge of a boycott and would not participate in any more international matches until the Canadian Soccer Association addressed issues of Morace’s departure and questions of just compensation.

Morace’s decision appears to be indicative of clashing views and strategies with the Canadian Soccer Association. There were also questions raised about the plausibility of Morace’s demands but even that seems to be an issue of conflict. This past weekend’s partially successful attempt at reform within the CSA likely speaks to the suffocating role that bureaucracy plays in the governance of the institution.

Beyond the politics, it also seems like a lack of fair compensation - or any compensation at all - is at the heart of the matter. The TSN reports that the team did not get paid for  the 2008 Olympics and would not have gotten compensated at all for 2010 CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifying had the team not won the tournament.

The threat of boycott could be a bold and potentially risky move of brinkmanship, particularly as the team is just over four months away from the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

With such high stakes in mind, however, the team’s move is undeniably courageous and highly strategic. On one level, the Canadian Women’s National Team is standing firmly behind a coach who has helped transform the team from being predictable perennial runners-up to becoming true contenders – and contenders with panache. And perhaps on a more urgent level, the team knows how much progress its made in recent years and wants to be rewarded, or even acknowledged for it. Compensation agreements between the team and the CSA have seemingly lagged behind the outstanding progress the team has made on the field.

Such unrest reflects extremely poorly on the CSA. Having a successful, well-loved head coach arbitrarily decide to leave the program is embarrassing enough. Having the entire Women’s National Team float the idea of a boycott in a World Cup year as a result of seemingly long-standing issues of inequality and instability is even more damning. Factor in the country’s bid to host the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and you’ve got yourself an urgent matter in need of addressing. (Could the idea of Zimbabwe as hosts be a real possibility?)    

For the first time in a long time (okay, ever) a real argument can be made that this team is just as competitive, if not better, than the United States Women’s National Team. As Christine Sinclair said in the TSN article, the team can finally compete with the world’s best.

While questions still surround the USWNT’s on-field play, it seems that the only doubts burdening the CanWNT lie off the field. And that’s a real shame.

 

For a more thorough understanding of the situation, read the TSN’s report and check out the comments on CanadianSoccerNews.com.

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