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Explaining the Canadian men’s national soccer team’s compensation dispute

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VANCOUVER – Just when all appeared calm in Canadian soccer for a few days, an aftershock hit.

It started with the cancellation of a controversial friendly vs. Iran in Vancouver after Canada Soccer faced heavy criticism for inviting the Iranians onto Canadian soil following the downing of Flight PS752 in 2020 — 85 Canadians were among 176 killed after the airplane was shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

As a result, a makeshift match with Panama was arranged for Sunday at BC Place.

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And then, in the days leading up to that friendly vs. Panama, the Canadian players refused to train because they are not happy with Canada Soccer and the state of negotiations on a new contract between the sport’s governing body and its players that addresses a variety of issues, including compensation from the prize money that the federation is set to receive for participating in the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

That crescendoed into the players refusing to play in the already hastily planned Panama game, forcing its cancellation about an hour before gates were scheduled to open to the fans.

Thankfully, some progress has been made. After more discussions with Canada Soccer on Sunday, the players returned to training on Monday afternoon at UBC, though a deal hasn’t been struck yet.

How did a program and federation that built up so much goodwill during its scintillating World Cup qualifying run end up here, though? Why are they fighting, and where do they go from here with Nations League matches against Curacao and Honduras on the horizon?

Here is an explainer on the dispute, the hot-button issues at play and a timeline for what’s ahead.

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What are the players and federation negotiating?

Talks between the men’s national team players and acting general secretary Earl Cochrane began after the 4-0 win over Jamaica on March 27 at BMO Field in Toronto, the day Canada officially qualified for the World Cup.

On Sunday, the players released a statement via a letter published by TSN’s Rick Westhead that said negotiations had been prolonged “due to executives delaying the process and taking vacations.”

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The letter also included a list of asks from the players. Let’s break down some of those demands.

World Cup compensation that includes 40% of prize money and a comprehensive friends and family package for the 2022 World Cup.

Playing at the 2022 World Cup guarantees a healthy chunk of prize money from FIFA for each participating country. The total payout for the Canadians is expected be at least $10 million, although head coach John Herdman told The Athletic that it could be $15 million.

Canada Soccer confirmed it had offered the men’s and women’s national teams 60 per cent of the pot, to be split evenly between the two squads. A source familiar with the negotiations within Canada Soccer told Sportsnet that the players’ ask for 40 per cent of the prize money was a net figure and only covered the men’s portion of the FIFA windfalls. Representatives from the players’ side have not responded to requests to clarify those details.

The request from the Canadian players wasn’t acceptable to Canada Soccer.

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“If we as an association only had the men’s team and the women’s team to take care of … we could still not afford this proposal,” Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis said during a press conference on Sunday. “It is untenable as written.”

Bontis also offered some clarity on the negotiations around the travel and ticket package for players’ friends and families to Qatar.

“Their proposal says nothing about tickets. Our proposal back to them says nothing about tickets, so that was actually a new item for our discussion. No problem, we’ll figure out what we can do about tickets but I also want to point out that as of the time we started negotiating, we don’t control tickets. FIFA controls tickets.”

An equitable structure with the 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.

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On Sunday, the women’s team released a statement saying that while they continue to negotiate with Canada Soccer and are “happy” that the men are pushing for an equitable structure, they do not view equal percentages as equal pay.

More former players from the men’s, women’s and para teams integrated into leadership positions within Canada Soccer Board & Organization.

Bontis said there are bylaws stipulating that an alumnus national team player must be on Canada Soccer’s board of directors. As of now, there is just one: Brittany Baxter. However, Bontis confirmed that the board is still undergoing changes, with ex-general secretary Peter Montopoli and former deputy general secretary Joe Guest stepping down at the end of last year and the federation still searching for permanent replacements.

Transparency and a review of the Canadian Soccer Business Agreement.

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Apart from splitting World Cup revenues, the crux of these negotiations surrounds Canadian Soccer Business (CSB), launched by the Canadian Premier League to “represent commercial assets and inventory for marquee soccer properties in Canada.”

From its formation in March 2018, CSB has represented all corporate partnerships and broadcast rights for women’s and men’s national teams, on behalf of Canada Soccer. The organization helped facilitate a 10-year rights deal with MediaPro, which launched the OneSoccer streaming service in Canada to broadcast CPL and Canadian national team matches, among other properties.

However, the exact nature of the relationship between Canada Soccer and Canadian Soccer Business is unknown. MediaPro was said to have invested $200 million over the 10 years, while CSB, via CEO Scott Mitchell, said in a statement the business has “invested tens of millions of dollars, and will continue to invest millions more, to benefit Canadian Soccer.”

Steve Reed, Bontis’ predecessor, was Canada Soccer president when MediaPro and CSB became involved.

“We are proud of our agreement with Canada Soccer and what it means to the Canadian soccer ecosystem,” Mitchell said via a statement. “We are prepared to be fully transparent about our agreement which has included an unprecedented amount of revenue to Canada Soccer in the past 18 months in the forms of sponsorship and international media dollars.”

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But with Canadian Soccer Business reaching the agreement with MediaPro, there are questions about how MediaPro’s investments are divvied up between CSB, the CPL and Canada Soccer.

Multiple outlets, including Sportsnet, questioned Cochrane and Bontis about CSB’s involvement with the federation and CSB’s share of the broadcasting revenues which was referenced in the players’ letter. Neither official provided a clear response.

“[Broadcasting revenue] is one source of revenue,” Bontis explained. “There are other sources of revenue that we have as well at our disposal, so I don’t want to make a direct link. It’s not accurate to say that this CSB somehow hampers our ability to pay the men. It doesn’t. We’ve offered the men a fair deal and offered the women a fair deal given the financial situation that we’re in and what we predicted that we are going to be in leading up to 2026.”

According to Canada Soccer’s financial statements from 2020 and 2021, revenues increased by more than 50 per cent from 2019 to 2021 — thanks largely to matches being played last year compared to a pandemic-affected 2020. Net assets stood at about $5 million in 2021, up from $3.9 million in 2020.

So what’s next?

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Canada faces Curacao at BC Place in its Concacaf Nations League opener on Thursday. Should the protest continue and lead to that match not being played, Concacaf and FIFA could sanction Canada Soccer.

The difference with cancelling friendlies is that payments are made to the affected federations from the responsible party, or Canada Soccer in this case.

That’s why it’s imperative that progress is made so that the players can return to the pitch as soon as possible.





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Three Stars from Day 3 of WJC: Canada’s McTavish joins elite company – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada and the U.S. dominated in their second game of the tournament while Czechia and Finland went toe-to-toe and needed a shootout to determine a winner on Day 3 of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Canadian team rebounded from a sluggish performance with an 11-1 win over Slovakia, a game in which captain Mason McTavish added his name to the country’s record books.

Against Switzerland, the United States took their game to another gear that their opponent could not match as they cruised to a 7-1 victory to improve to 2-0 at the tournament.

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Finland dropped a crucial point as they had to overcome a 2-0 deficit but were able to pick up the shootout win over their rival Czechia.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 3 of the world juniors.

3rd Star: Luke Hughes, USA

Coming from a great hockey family, Luke Hughes is making most of his opportunity as one of the top defencemen for the U.S. 

The younger brother of Quinn and Jack displayed his mobility and vision against Switzerland with a three-point effort. He now has five points in his first two games of the tournament — more than either of his brothers ever achieved at this event in fewer games.

Hughes leads all defenceman in scoring so far in the tournament and is tied for fourth overall.

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The 18-year-old played 21:18 against the Swiss to lead the U.S. in ice time playing on the top pairing with Brock Faber. His play from this point will be a crucial part of his team’s success given the creativity he displayed, especially on Matt Coronato’s goal in the second period.

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He made another top-notch set up on Thomas Bordeleau’s power-play goal in the third period as he delayed enough to get the defenders to pull towards his side of the ice.

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2nd Star: Carter Mazur, USA

Coming into the tournament, Carter Mazur is looking to build off an impressive season at the University of Denver. 

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While he was in a scoring slump in his first NCAA season, the Detroit Red Wings prospect made a call to his NHL team’s assistant director of player development, Daniel Cleary. After that, he would go on to finish with 14 goals and 38 points in 41 games.

Those tips have now turned Mazur into a scoring machine as he accounted for two of the team’s seven goals and was also named the player of the game as the top line of Mazur, Landon Slaggert, and Thomas Bordeleau had an impressive performance against Switzerland

After a scoreless first period, Mazur wasn’t going to make any mistake on a point-blank chance in front of the net with Mackie Samoskevich making a great pass from behind the net.

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With the Americans looking to add to their lead, Mazur was once again the beneficiary of a great pass from Slaggert as he made no mistake from the front of the net.

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He added another assist on Slaggert’s goal later in the period for his third point of the game. Through his first two games at the world juniors, Mazur has four points and is tied for sixth in scoring.

1st Star: Mason McTavish, Canada

On a night where Canada dominated from start to finish, Mason McTavish joined some elite company with a night he’ll certainly remember for a long time.

The 19-year-old joined Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagné, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh, Maxime Comtois and teammate Connor Bedard as the only players to score four goals in a single world junior game for Canada. The tournament record for goals in a single game is held by Sweden’s Ola Rosander who had six back in 1987.

With his performance against Slovakia in a dominant win for Canada, McTavish now sits atop the scoring lead with eight points in two games after registering six points in this game.

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McTavish scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway — with Canada already leading 5-0 midway through the second — making no mistake to beat Tomas Bolo, who came into the game after starter Simon Latkoczy was pulled going into the second period.

His second goal came off a great play by Joshua Roy who flipped the puck in the air to Brennan Othmann who then set up McTavish as he finished with a backhander to put Canada up 7-1. McTavish would complete the second-period hat trick, a day after Alexander Blank did the same for Germany, after a selfless pass from Roy on a 2-on-0 break.

Canada would capitalize on a turnover on McTavish’s fourth goal as Othmann set him up alone in front of the net and he made no mistake.

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There was some doubt about whether McTavish would suit up for Canada after playing a fair amount of hockey last season. Making his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks, the third overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft played in a total of 72 games between the NHL, AHL, OHL, Memorial Cup and the Olympics.

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Instead, McTavish decided to join the team in Edmonton and take on the role as captain where he has excelled centring Canada’s top line with Bedard and and a rotation of Roy and Othmann.

Canada will now look forward to a matchup against Czechia with a chance to improve to 3-0.

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Field of Dreams Game 2022: A celebration of baseball memories in an Iowa cornfield

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The Field of Dreams is an opportunity for fans and players alike to reflect on the people and places that taught them to love baseball, Jake Mintz writes.



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Ravens extend NFL record for consecutive postseason wins following Thursday’s victory over the Titans

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USA Today

The No. 21 is now synonymous with the longest winning streaks in NFL regular and preseason history. the 2003-04 Patriots won 21 consecutive games, an NFL record. On Thursday night, the Ravens won their 21st consecutive preseason game after securing a 23-10 decision against the Tennessee Titans

Baltimore has not lost a preseason game since 2016. Joe Flacco was their starting quarterback when the streak began, while Steve Smith Jr., who this past year was eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time, was heading into his final NFL season. Baltimore’s roster also included Terrell Suggs, who was entering his second-to-last season with the franchise. 

Along with not losing preseason games, another constant in Baltimore over the past six years has been kicker Justin Tucker, who is entering his 11th season with the Ravens. Tucker’s field goals of 47, 25 and 47 yards on Thursday night helped Baltimore pull out the win after falling behind midway through the second quarter. 

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The Ravens won Thursday’s game by winning the turnover margin while holding the Titans to 1 of 3 red zone efficiency. One of those turnovers was scooped up by Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens’ first-round pick in this past year’s draft. 

Baltimore won despite the efforts of Malik Willis, the Titans’ rookie quarterback who overcame a slow start to score his first NFL touchdown, a 7-yard run early in the second quarter. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Ravens received a strong night from Tyler Huntley, who completed all but two of his 18 pass attempts that included his game-winning touchdown pass to Shemar Bridges



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