The fights before the World Cup held in Canada, France, and Spain exposed the problems

Shortly after midnight on August 7, 2021, Canada’s Olympic soccer team turned to face the Canadian flag, gold medals around their necks, and began singing “O Canada.” After semi-final meetings in 2012 and 2016, the North American team won the major women’s soccer tournament.

Despite the 2021 Olympic Games being held in empty stadiums in Japan in the summer of 2015, rather than the full stadiums of the 2015 Women’s World Cup held in Canada, joy in the sticky night air of Yokohama was mixed with hope. Canada has been forced to make the Olympic journey alone, with their fans stuck at home due to the ongoing pandemic and strict entry requirements for the host country. Once again, the team was on the brink: women’s soccer in Canada finally had a spark that could ignite with their success.

Fast-forward 18 months and the team is no longer celebrated by Soccer Canada, but instead has seen its budgets slashed even further, with the federation claiming it doesn’t have the revenue to support all parts of the game. This claims that the men’s teamtook the federation to task given that the numbers weren’t adding up through their players’ association.

Worst of all is former Canadian player Kailyn Kyle declared Canada Soccer and the federation’s commercial partner, Canadian Soccer Business, turned potential investors away from the women’s team, reflecting the general apathy seen in the sport for decades.

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It would be easy for outsiders to say that the women’s team is demanding too much in demanding equality with the men’s team; After all, Canada is not a country rich in football. However, players are far from demanding the eye-watering amount seen in the men’s game: one are the first concerns raised by players Until 2022, Soccer Canada hasn’t paid them a single cent.

The team, which originally threatened a strike two weeks ago before the SheBelieves Cup, has been threatened with legal action from Soccer Canada. little choice left but to report to the camp in protest. Three games into the SheBelieves Cup, the emotional and mental toll on the players during the ongoing feud was clear.

As Christine Sinclair told the media After Canada lost the first game to the USA, “This game leading up to it could have gone two ways. We’re going to fight for everything, we’re going to come out on fire or we’re going to come out flat. You saw the first 10-15 minutes, we came out flat. We’re a tired team, We looked like a mentally exhausted team.”

With Canada Soccer and the players at an impasse, there is another threat of player strikes for April’s friendlies. the likelihood of political interference Involved in a dispute with the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage — a committee of the House of Commons of Canada. Canadian Federation president Nick Bontis resigned on Monday, admitting that “this moment calls for a change,” but Bontis’ departure won’t solve all the players’ problems. After all, the contract that accounts for much of the ongoing controversy was handled by Bontis’ predecessor, Steve Reid, in 2019. (Previously, Canadian soccer was led by Victor Montagliani, now head of CONCACAF).

This friction between Canadian players and their federation certainly does not exist in a vacuum – rather, it speaks to a culture of indifference and indifference in women’s sports, with federations doing the bare minimum to keep their women’s programs going. . But even low-budget teams have reason to be grateful if they are lucky enough to play under a sympathetic and caring coach — after all, those players are lucky players, as countless elite national teams around the world, international and domestic, have to work under draconian leadership.

Last week we saw France captain Wendy Renard talk about the current formations in the France national team and why he can’t continue after 142 caps for his country. Paris Saint-Germain strikers Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatu Diani made the same announcement earlier in the day, before two other French international defenders, Perle Morroni and Gridge Mbok, called on their compatriots to make the switch.

It’s obviously been around for a long time BluesCoach Corinne Diacre is not a sympathetic coach, but a coach who has led to an unhappy culture in the national team camps. Damningly, Renard said he had to protect his mental health in order to leave his national team, showing just how deep the rift runs.

Not only did France underperform at their home World Cup in 2019, but also at Euro 2022 – both with Diacre at the helm – there have long been questions about the coach and his methodology, which has left many players out of the game. cold for no reason. What we do know, however, is that over the years, the long-time president of the French Football Federation, Noel Le Graet, has been one of Diacre’s biggest supporters and has stood by him even when the team’s rift was in the public eye.

Now that Le Graet is set to step down after a series of scandals, Diacre’s position seems far less secure, and reports suggest he may be forced to resign after years of working with impunity. But head south and you’ll find a similar toxic situation unfolding in Spain between the RFEF and the women’s national team players.

Known for going far in tournaments, Spain (like France) have consistently failed to impress under coach Jorge Wilda, and after another disappointing run at the Euros last summer, 15 senior players are at a loss. All of them sent the same statement to the RFEF saying that they cannot continue unless the situation changes.

Complaints from players in Spain varied: as well as citing their emotional struggles under an authoritarian coach, they also cited their physical well-being, with many concerned about overuse and repeated injuries. But many are talking about a coach who can’t do the basics of his job, coaching and leadership around the team is a long-standing problem for a nation that has repeatedly failed to qualify for tournaments.



When Captain Renard refused, the “time of reckoning” came for the French Federation

Sophie Lawson has responded to the news that Wendy Renard, Marie-Antoinette Catoto and Kadidiatou Diani will not be representing France at the Women’s World Cup.

Like Diacre in France, Vilda is well protected in Spain – he is in fact his own boss and the only person capable of firing him (besides himself) is RFEF president Luis Rubiales, who wholeheartedly supports his friend.

Following Renard’s news, the FFF issued a brief statement in which no one was above the national team. This echoed the Spanish response “Dirty 15” — as the speakers are colloquially known — Wilda’s warnings about calling up a team of underage players.

It seemed to be in both cases is one person always stands above the national team: the coach.

As frustrating as it is, it’s no surprise that these types of fights are still going on in women’s football, and it doesn’t seem to register that they are currently three of the top 10 teams in the world according to FIFA. But it’s clear the players are talking now – with the World Cup just five months away, the Braves rocking the boat know exactly what they’re getting themselves into.

As we have seen time and time again, players were regularly “punished” by coaches and federations after speaking out, whether it was French striker and captain Amandine Henry, who was unceremoniously dropped by Diacre, or Argentina striker Estefania Banini, the star. he was sidelined from the national team for years after speaking out against former coach Carlos Borrello. Or how about the Mexican goalscorer Charlín Corral, who was the decisive vote in ousting former coach Leonardo Cuellar, or the majority of the Spanish team who talked about the abusive methods of Wilda’s predecessor, Ignacio Quereda?

Today, more money is flowing in parts of the game and more players can call themselves professionals, meaning they are not dependent on whatever salary their national teams offer, but the ability is not in doubt. wearing the shirt of their country remains one of the highest honors for women footballers.

When calling for changes, these players know what they’re getting themselves into. They know that instead of promoting positive change, after receiving (and leaking) statements from them, they can face punishment such as the threat of a multi-year expulsion from the RFEF. “The 15th”.

What we’re seeing all over the world is players speaking up for positive change in the sport despite the risks – not just in Spain, France and Canada, but also because of the long-running unrest in Chile. women’s team or final criticism How the Japanese Federation saved the women’s soccer team, to name a few. As Chelsea boss Emma Hayes said on Sunday afternoon: “Federations need to do better to support the women’s game because it’s clear we’re not getting it right globally.”

With more focus on the sport than ever before and increased interest from fans and investors alike, these latest testimonials should be a catalyst to strengthen the sport around the world and address the systematic and egregious failures of those in positions of power. As we head into the most-watched World Cup in women’s sports history, what worries many is that things are going backwards, with decision-makers doing things that benefit themselves rather than the sport as a whole. .

“All I know is we all have to do better,” Hayes continued Sunday. “It’s very sad to hear, but it’s a reminder of how much work we still have to do.”

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