CanMNT refuse to play Panama friendly to protest compensation issues

Lizzy Becherano
CanMNT refusing to play match against Panama at BC Place.
CanMNT refusing to play match against Panama at BC Place. / Rich Lam/GettyImages

The Canadian men’s national team will not play against Panama in a previously scheduled friendly on Sunday in protest of player compensation issues. 

The team also refused to train on Friday ahead of the match due to disputes over the allocation of funds from qualifying for the World Cup. 

Countries that qualify for the international tournament receive prize money, generally split between individual players and the nation’s soccer federation.

Currently, Canadian players are unsatisfied with the compensation aspect of the contract being offered to the team and are petitioning for a larger portion of the prize money. 

Canada Soccer issued a statement on Saturday night addressing the situation, insisting the federation was: "in discussions with their national team players pertaining to fair and equitable player compensation ahead of the FIFA World Cup period."

The two sides did not reach an immediate agreement, prompting CanMNT players to pen a letter to their fanbase titled 'Dear Canada.'

Rick Westhead released the letter.

“In March, we initiated contract discussions with Canada Soccer. Due to executives delaying the process and taking vacations, the negotiation process was unnecessarily prolonged. Canada Soccer waited until the evening of June 2nd to present an archaic offer and the general secretary & president of the association only made themselves available for the first time to connect with the players on June 4th at 4:00pm,” the letter explained. 

“For these reasons, we have reluctantly decided not to play our match today against Panama.”  

The players went on to list their requirements going forward, pleading for transparency, 40 percent of the World Cup prize money and equal pay for the Women’s national team. 

“Going forward we need… an equitable structure with our women’s national team that shares the same player match fees, percentage of prize money earned at our respective FIFA World Cups and the development of a women’s domestic league… World Cup compensation that includes 40% of prize money and a comprehensive friends and family package for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”

The letter included an apology to Panama's fans, players and staff after the team traveled on a last-minute basis to Canada for the friendly. Canada Soccer had initially scheduled a friendly against Iran for Sunday.

The team is set to play in two Nations League matches during the ongoing June international window, though it is unclear whether the team will report for duty.