Players of Canada’s national men’s soccer team have agreed to form a players’ association to collectively bargain with Canada Soccer, Toronto FC midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye said in an interview.
Kaye, who has 35 caps for Canada, said 47 of the 50 players involved in the organizing effort have signed union cards and the players are receiving legal advice from Toronto law firm Aird & Berlis LLP and Williams. & Connolly LLP, a Washington law firm that has advised players for the US men’s national soccer team.
Every player called up to a national team training camp since Jan. 1, 2021 has received a union card, Kaye said on Friday.
“Before it came to this with the national team in terms of success on the pitch, we never felt the need to address the business aspect and what the players would get from FIFA,” Kaye said.
“We have questions that need to be answered about World Cup money and other issues as well. What will the training camps be like? What will the flights be like for the players moving forward? As soon as we got to the World Cup, we felt that we really had to set the tone for where we leave this program when all of our time is up. We don’t want to leave that up to chance. We had to come together to form a union.
The new group of players will be called the Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association (CMNSTPA), Kaye said, adding that the legal documents to create the association were signed on Thursday.
Players on the men’s team have been battling with Canada Soccer for months over how much money they will be paid to qualify for this year’s World Cup. Kaye said the team has yet to approach Canada Soccer officials about their trading plans.
“We welcome this development and look forward to reviewing their documents,” Canada Soccer spokesperson Paulo Senra wrote in a statement. “We continue to engage in open and transparent conversations with our two national teams with the aim of finding a solution based on the values of fairness and equal pay. We look forward to continuing our negotiations.
Several people familiar with the matter said they expect Canada Soccer to voluntarily recognize the players’ association, as the federation did in 2016 when the players of the women’s national team organized themselves.
Even if Canada Soccer tries to challenge the formation of a union with a provincial labor relations board, the request would likely be approved based on the number of players who have signed union cards, said Rahul Soni, a labor lawyer and employment in Toronto which represented both. unions and employers.
“The benefits for an employee, a player in this case, is that a union levels the playing field and when you have a collective bargaining agreement it really sets rules on what the employer is allowed to do. and defines what happens if the employer does something inappropriate,” Soni said. “He tries to weed out any hanky-panky from an employer.”
Canada Soccer is set to receive a $10 million (US) payment from FIFA after the men’s national team qualified for this year’s World Cup in Qatar. While the men have demanded 40% of the premium after tax, Canada Soccer says the demand is untenable as the federation has pledged to pay the men’s and women’s teams equally.
Canada Soccer has offered to give players 30% of the World Cup bonus, less than some other countries. The federation’s offer would amount to about 15% of the after-tax premium, Kaye said.
“How does the United States agree to give their players 90% of the new prize money and Canada Soccer offers to give us around 30%?” says Kaye. “It’s so little. It just doesn’t make sense. They try to keep a lot of the money they get from FIFA for themselves.
Kaye said that in its latest contract offer of June 23, Canada Soccer proposed that players from the men’s and women’s teams who have to fly more than eight hours to get to a national team game or training do so. in business class. For flights under eight hours, Canada Soccer has offered players travel in economy or premium economy class, Kaye said. For the past few years, players on the men’s team have flown exclusively business class.
“We agree that the federation needs to do better for the players of the women’s team,” Kaye said. “The federation should definitely get them to where we are. No one should back down. »