Two training sessions scheduled in Vancouver for Canada’s men’s soccer team have been canceled amid ongoing talks over player compensation.
Canada Soccer’s advanced teams set up the equipment at the Vancouver Whitecaps training ground on Friday afternoon, but packed it up and left the pitch empty minutes before the start of the session.
A session scheduled for Saturday was also canceled.
“Canada Soccer is currently in discussions with its national team players regarding fair and equitable player compensation ahead of the FIFA World Cup period,” the association said. said in a statement late Saturday evening.
The team is in Vancouver ahead of a friendly against Panama scheduled for Sunday. Canada is also set to host Curacao as part of the CONCACAF Nations League on June 9.
TSN reported that the players declined to participate in Friday’s practice due to a contractual dispute which relates, in part, to the amount the athletes will receive for competing at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
A spokesperson for Canada Soccer said on Saturday discussions over player compensation were ongoing.
Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio spoke to The Canadian Press about negotiations on the eve of the international break.
“I think what we’re asking of the players is fair,” he said. “We don’t want to be treated more specially than similar teams we compare ourselves to. We just want to be respected and not exploited and just get our fair share.
Osorio, 29, has made 55 appearances for Canada with seven goals and seven assists but is not currently with the team as he suffers from a lower body injury.
The Toronto native said national team players have seen an improvement in their flights and accommodation since head coach John Herdman took charge of the team in January 2018.
“It’s very different from what it was before,” Osorio said. “That said, there is a lot to do on the part of the federation. I think the players need to see more support from the federation now and not just rely on John to get things done. I think these things will come with results.
The athletes and Canada Soccer are also said to be discussing whether the association will help players bring loved ones to Qatar.
Osorio believes they will get help, but details have not been agreed.
“I don’t think they can take care of everyone’s extended family,” he said. “I think everyone’s immediate family will be taken care of. And after that, if the players want to take care of other people, I think the federation will also help with that, I don’t know how much.
Canada Soccer President Nick Bontis and his acting General Secretary were due to land in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon. A spokesperson for the association said their trip was scheduled before practice was canceled on Friday.
Herdman said every minute his band spends together is “crucial” as they prepare to compete on the world’s biggest stage in November.
“There’s not a minute to lose right now,” he said in a statement when the team’s roster was released last month.
Sunday’s game is the first of three for the 38th-ranked Canadians in the current international window.
No. 61 Panama was not initially on Canada’s schedule for this window. Instead, Canada was due to face Iran in a friendly match on June 5, but the game drew heavy criticism, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying it was “not a very good idea”.
An Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on January 8, 2020 shortly after takeoff from Tehran, killing 176 people, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.
Canada Soccer canceled the game on May 26 and Panama was named as the substitute opponent on May 31.
After hosting No. 79 Curaçao at BC Place, Canada are due to travel to San Pedro Sula to take on No. 82 Honduras on June 13.
“With files from Neil Davidson in Toronto.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
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