Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema is on the roster for the Canadian national women’s soccer squad as they head into the 2023 SheBelieves Cup this week, and normally that would be a good thing. But Huitema and 22 teammates have said they will play the tournament under protest after staging an unsuccessful work stoppage last week.
The team boycotted training Saturday (Feb. 11) to protest income inequality between the women’s and men’s teams, and cuts made to both programs made by Canada Soccer. When the governing body threatened legal action, the women returned to work Sunday.
“To be clear. We are being forced back to work for the short term,” Canadian soccer legend and Huitema teammate Christine Sinclair tweeted. “This is not over. We will continue to fight for everything we deserve and we will win. The She Believes [Cup] is being played in protest.”
Huitema, one of the team’s youngest players, stayed silent on social media save for two retweets. One was from United States women’s soccer great Alex Morgan who wrote, “What do they have to do, win a gold medal? Sell out stadiums? Oh wait… It’s 2023, wake up @CanadaSoccerEN you’re on the clock.”
The women’s team has long contended that they are treated differently than the men’s team, and the numbers bear that out with Canada Soccer spending twice as much on the latter as the former ($11 million versus $5.1 million in 2021). Huitema’s crew played just two fewer games than the men in 2021 and won an Olympic gold medal.
Canadian midfielder Quinn didn’t mince words with their tweet on Sunday.
“We are being forced back to work for the next few weeks.” they wrote. “While stepping on a field continuing to provide labour for an organization that upholds gender inequality goes against every fibre of my being, I will continue to do so [for now] in protest.”
The labour dispute is coming to a head mere months before Huitema and company are due to compete in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is scheduled for July 20 to Aug. 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
“We continue to believe that Canada Soccer needs to do more more to support our programs and our players,” read a statement from the Canadian Players Association. “And we continue to believe that unless we stand up together and demand more, nothing will ever change.”
Canada will play three games at the She Believes Cup, starting with a Thursday game against the United States. That’ll be followed by games against Brazil (Feb. 19) and Japan (Feb. 22).
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