0:4 in the deciding match: With Canada, an Olympic champion for the first time failed in the preliminary round of the World Cup.
“I didn’t come here today thinking we were going home.” Canada coach Bev Priestman could not hide her disappointment after being eliminated in the preliminary round. “It’s very painful now, but we will learn from it.”
The way the end came was particularly “hell”: at the start of the final round as a team in the expanded favorites circle, the Canadians suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of host Australia. It was not enough after the 0-0 draw with Nigeria and the mini-win over Ireland. For the first time in the history of the Women’s World Cup, the Olympic champion did not survive the subsequent group stage of the World Cup.
“Things have to change”
Christine Sinclair, 40, who has played more than 320 matches in the national team since 2000, found clear words: “Our federation – I mean things have to change. We don’t have a professional league. We don’t offer players a way to get into the national team.” “If that doesn’t sound like a wake-up call, I don’t know what will.”
The worm has actually been around in Canadian football for a long time. There is a distribution battle between the federation, the clubs and the (national) players. Ahead of the SheBelieves Cup in February, players threatened to go on strike after the federation cut the 2023 budget and saved money on training camps, among other things. Just a few days ago, a temporary agreement was reached on compensation for 2023.
A controversial marketing deal
However, the federation bears responsibility for Canada’s severe restrictions on soccer: it sold the television and sponsorship rights to a company owned by the league’s president. The 10-year contract, concluded in 2018, guarantees the association $3 million Canadian dollars annually, but is now worth an estimated $15 million.
Within weeks, 2023 Assembly president Nick Pontis and general secretary Earl Cochrane had doffed their hats. Cochrane had to appear before a parliamentary committee. There he admitted that cutting the national teams’ budget was a mistake. However, his temporary successor, Jason DeVos, did not rule out the possibility of the association going bankrupt.
Key matches to qualify for the Olympics
Meanwhile, Nationals coach Priestman is looking to the future. In September, Canada will play two playoff matches against Jamaica for the final Olympic spot in the North and Central American Federation. “Everyone says how important September is.” So that Canadian women’s soccer can see the light at the end of the tunnel again.
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