Home Global Game Africa Canadian women wanted equality: Now, in dealing with criticism, they should get it

Canadian women wanted equality: Now, in dealing with criticism, they should get it


It may be the most anticlimactic loss in the history of the Canadian women’s soccer program. After hitting the woodwork twice, Nigeria got the goal it deserved to beat Canada 1-0 in both teams’ swan songs at the Women’s World Cup.

Both Nigeria, the African champion, and Canada, the CONCACAF champion, came into the game knowing it was no more than a glorified friendly. The Nigerians could at least take some pride away from this match. Perpetua Nkwocha got the goal in the 84th minute, after a power failure took almost 14 minutes to be resolved at the Rudolf-Harbig Stadiumm in Dresden, Germany. The power failure was a fitting send-off to a Canadian team that scored just once, and looked like its No. 6 world ranking was a cruel joke.

Take this as a given; the Canadian Soccer Association’s bean counters will look at the money that was spent on sending the team to camp in Italy ahead of the WWC. And the question asked will be “was it worth it?”

After getting the resources she needed to have the team prepare for months in Rome, and play a series of friendlies behind closed doors (as in — games that generate no revenue or PR value for the CSA), what the soccer-paying public got what was a string of excuses. About Canada not being professional enough. About our country not providing the professionalism our women need to succeed.

Yes, it was an indictment of WPS — which many of the American players call home. You know, the American team that breezed into the quarter-finals? Cough.

A handful of the key Canadian players, including star Christine Sinclair, are WPS products. But, Sinclair has admitted that she has turned down offers to play in Europe, stating that she wants to remain closer to home. She has shown an unshakeable loyalty to WPS.

“We have seen so many teams fold over the two years it’s [WPS] has been around,” Sinclair said when she was named Canada’s female player of the year last December. “At the same time, more teams are coming in. This league is so important for soccer in North America. It would be a shame if it didn’t succeed. Here in North America, we need to show respect to the women’s league and respect to women’s sports.”

The message has been clear; Canada’s best player has had the chance to compete in those leagues that Morace covets, but has chosen to stay close to home. That’s fair. Women’s professional sports aren’t lucrative, so decisions about where to live are as important as how much you will make.

But Canada doesn’t have the kind of infrastructure to support a viable women’s league. Heck, you can argue that, judging by the financial problems that plague WPS, the U.S. can’t support a women’s pro league. And this Canadian team was more than competitive in the Gold Cup and the various tournaments it played in leading up to the World Cup. And the CSA knows that.

Guaranteed, next time Morace gives the Association an expensive shopping list, she’ll be met — understandably — with a lot of resistance. It’s like asking dad to borrow the Ferrari after you totalled the Porsche the last time out. Not gonna happen.

Women’s sport, as a rule, is handled with kid gloves by the Canadian media. We preach equality between the genders, but it doesn’t hold true in the sports section. Columnists call female athletes by their first names, as if they were their kid sisters (how many of you refer to Sinclair as “Christine?” Gotcha.) And, when women fail, it’s OK. Hard questions aren’t asked. When the men crash, we are all over them. Remember how we all felt bad for Mellisa Hollingsworth, the Canadian skeleton star who was expected to medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games? She was in tears after finishing fifth. She was hard on herself. And there was collective sympathy for her. Had Hollingsworth been a man, the media would have been far more cruel. But that’s the inequality that exists between men’s and women’s sport.

Women are held to different standards. And they shouldn’t. The Canadian team trained in Italy. It won tournament after tournament. And it failed on the big stage. Morace and co. don’t deserve excuses. They don’t deserve sympathy. Morace fought hard to get the women’s program on the same footing on the men. Her team threatened to strike in support of her. Now, in failure, they deserve the same hard criticisms that are normally reserved for men’s soccer. The women wanted equality — and we support that fully. So, it’s time for this team to come home and answer the tough questions.

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  1. Neil "Coachrich"

    July 7, 2011 at 12:37 am

    Hi Steven

    All the players have taken ownership of their deeds and they will have to review and adjust one they can go further than what they have said already to the press.

    IMO this WWC was overhyped and too much placed on ranking for the CWNT. Further, most fans don’t get it that the WWC is tournament and not league play… why else is there a “Group of Death?” Most countries outside of CONCACAF have passed us by. For sure, the European teams with 28 women’s teams and their cup play are showing they have a great structure that is run by the big pro clubs who understand youth development.

    Where Canada goes now IMO is to keep Morace and let her continue to do what she thinks is best. The CSA and the rest of Canada’s youth development needs to be reviewed similar to the Crawford Report. Those 2 areas are the broken record in the macro landscape. Morace is like another Pellerud that can only go so far due to the CSA and development structure. Jason De Vos has a great article called “Fixing Canadian Soccer – A Call to Action.”


    A couple of things to keep in mind when the CWNT funding is talked about is that the majority of its funding is restricted funding that doesn’t come out of the CSA bank accounts. The funding is to be used by the team for its program and that’s it.

    This extra funding is awarded to the team based on prior years’ results. The money comes from Sports Canada, Own the Podium (Canadian Olympic Committee) and etc. By placing top 2 in CONCACAF, going to the WWC and hopefully the Olympics they repeat the cycle they had achieved in the last 4-year cycle for restricted funding qualification.

    Sports Canada
    2011-2012 – ?
    2010 – 2011 – $3.35M (program support) = $50,000 (hosting) – Olympics prep?
    2009 – 2010 – $2.16M – WWC prep?
    2008 – 2009 – $1.5M
    2007 – 2008 – $1.5M + $1.84M (MNT U20 hosting) – WNT Qualified for Olympics
    2006 – 2007 – $1.4M + $2.4M (MNT U20 hosting) – WNT Qualified for WWC

    OTP – for the last three years of a 4-year cycle
    Beijing – $1.591M or $530K per year
    London – $2.496M or $832K

    FIFA WWC award of $300K – part is being used to compensate players in the WWC cycle.

    It’s been reported that England is spending $9.5M on their WNT in the run-up for the 2012 Olympics.

    USWNT Base Yearly Expenses that do not include Olympic or WWC related expenses. It’s hard to compare vs the CWNT as their cycles of how they use their money is different. Hence what the CSA usually tells us in only part of the real picture.

    2010 – $3.334M
    2009 – $8.593M
    2008 – $6.239M
    2007 – $4.766M
    2006 – $3.181M

    Further, when you hear the CSA saying this year’s CWNT budget is almost the same as the USWNT budget, it’s misinformation. Reason is the budget cycles are different. Typically, the CWNT budget is only 30% of the average USWNT average yearly budget. Say $2.5 to $3.5 but keep in mind that the CSA direct contribution is rarely greater than $1M as the rest comes in the form of restricted funding.

  2. bman

    July 6, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Yet another Canadian who only measures the score. The Canadian women did not “give Germany a good game.” They played poorly. Couldn’t or wouldn’t pass the ball through midfield. No individual technique, no possession.There was little difference between Canada’s performance against France and their performance against Germany — except for the score. That’s the problem with this country — we don’t know what we’re looking at.

    • James

      July 7, 2011 at 6:18 am

      Have you seen Germany play anyone else? Before you start knocking a “Canadian” soccer fan, maybe you should consider who we were playing and where we were playing them. The consider how close we were to pulling a point out of that game. Maybe you should have a better understanding of where our women were and where they are now. How they play the game and how they helped change the women’s game. The problem with you is that you can’t see that Canada is a nation where not only did a lot of us grow up with the game, but we also have a deeper appreciation for it than some whiney soccer snob that can’t see past their grandparents’ passports.

  3. James

    July 6, 2011 at 8:09 am

    What a rough time for Canadian fans… The Gold Cup was a massive let-down and I’m worried with WCQ right around the corner. The U17’s came so close… just not enough. We showed that our boys can play with the best, but we’re missing something for sure. Call it a tactical problem.

    The women choked, though. Big-time choke. 4-0 to France?! Heads should roll and I’m not including Morace. She has had the women playing the best football the program has ever played. We’ve proven that we can beat anyone in the world and even gave the Germans a good game… Prior to the WC, we’d beaten England, Italy, China, Sweden. I think we even had a draw or maybe a win against the Yanks… I don’t know what happened to this team at the WC. I’d say a few players need to sit out… make some real changes. The women have the depth to do it.

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