Affirmations of an Armchair Quarterback

Mike Davies:  Sports Editor Ω

The Canadian National Women’s Soccer Team is on strike.

Due to a lack of equity in their pay scale and the imminent stepping-down of their head coach, the team has decided to take drastic steps to bring their situation to the forefront of Canadian sports news.

The Canadian Soccer Association (CSA), the sport’s governing body in Canada, has been in talks with the team’s head coach, Carolina Morace, over her decision to resign following the 2011 Women’s World Cup, which is this coming June and July. Until this matter is resolved, the team will boycott all international games.

Morace cited “differences with the CSA over the long-term strategy of the women’s team” as the reason for her resignation, according to a CBC report last week.

Christine Sinclair, easily the most recognized name in Canadian women’s soccer and the team’s captain, said last week, “This is something that’s been going on for a long time, ever since I’ve been a member of the national team. We as players have been battling with the CSA to try to get the proper compensation and the proper support.”

“Ultimately we’re just frustrated,” she added. “We didn’t want it to come to this point five months before the opening game of the World Cup because our focus should be on the World Cup.”

Let me get in on this for a moment.  It’s a touchy subject that I’m sure some of you have an opinion on—but I get to start.  And let me get this out of the way—I’m a soccer fan myself, no matter the sex of the players.

Your coach resigned.  She was not fired.  She disagreed with the direction “management” wanted to take with the organization, so she resigned her post.  It was her decision.  This happens all the time—both in sports and in everyday life.

If I disagree with the direction that the board of directors of the newspaper I work for wants to take going forward, I could argue with them for a bit, but ultimately it would be my decision to either do my job the way they want me to do it— or do it my way and probably get fired—or quit.

As far as compensation for your job is concerned, I understand your frustration, as $1500 per month doesn’t sound like an appropriate amount for soccer players to be paid at the top of their game.

But you also have to realize that you aren’t exactly generating huge streams of revenue either.  That sounds mean, but it’s the nature of business.

A business has to pay its employees based on the revenue that those employees produce for the business, right?  Unfortunately, women’s soccer in Canada is not a huge draw that fills stadiums all over the nation.  There’s no huge television deal in place that pays the CSA huge sums for broadcasting rights that they should be sharing with the athletes as happens in other sports and other soccer leagues.

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that the support for the sport is growing.  Like I said, I’m a fan of the game myself.  I realize the need to continue supporting the growth of grassroots soccer that is alive and well in Canada.

But do you think the best way to do that is to skip the World Cup?  Or even if this whole dispute gets resolved before that and you end up going, do you think maybe you would be better served by preparing for the event and focusing on training rather than engaging in a legal dispute with the CSA?

Personally I think that winning the World Cup—which is a very real possibility, as anyone who follows soccer at all can attest to—would likely grow the sport more effectively and help your cause more than this boycott/strike ever could.

I agree with much of what you are saying, Canadian National Women’s Soccer Team, I really do.  But your timing of this I think will do more harm than good in the long run, and isn’t that your goal—the long run?

Sinclair admitted that, “We know that every day or game that we might miss in the build-up for the World Cup diminishes our chances. But we’re fighting for things beyond the World Cup—we’re fighting for the young players on the team and the young players within Canada that have dreams and aspirations of representing their country.”

So represent your country, ladies.  Get on the pitch and show the world how good women’s soccer can be in Canada.  Once you do that, you can worry about getting paid.