Home Canadian Soccer It’s all in the timing; women announce boycott is off

It’s all in the timing; women announce boycott is off

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The Canadian women’s team public-relations strategy has been up and down since the beginning of the Carolina Morace ordeal; but Thursday night’s announcement that the threatened boycott of international games has been aborted was a masterstroke.

“We are excited about returning to the field as these are important games in preparing for the World Cup in June,” midfielder Rhian Wilkinson, speaking on behalf of the team, said in a short statement that was released to The Canadian Press.

The team had threatened to boycott, beginning with next week’s Cyprus Cup, unless the Canadian Soccer Association found a way to convince coach Morace not to resign . She previously pledged she would hand in her walking papers at the conclusion of the upcoming women’s World Cup.

But the women indicated Thursday that enough progress has been made in talks with the CSA to satisfy them — and they will play.

What was really interesting about the statement is that it hit the wire on Thursday evening — the middle of the night in Europe. That means that all of the players and coaching staff were well past curfew — and in bed. When the news hit, there were no players on Twitter. After all, every Canadian soccer journalist has them all on his or her Twitter feed.

Was it by accident or orchestrated by the women’s PR team at Fleishman-Hillard Canada?

The timing ensured that the news came out early enough to make all of the newspapers — save for the massive Sun Media chain, which doesn’t subscribe to CP — but made it impossible for journalists to make calls or send e-mails to the players looking for quotes. Wilkinson’s statement would stand alone. Even if the release is made public on Friday, it doesn’t matter. By Friday, it’s yesterday’s news.

One statement, and then it’s back to work tomorrow — preparing for the Cyprus Cup.

The pledge to lift the boycott also removes the one serious obstacle the CSA had to navigate when it came to the bid to host the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Now that a truce has been reached with the women’s team, a stain has been removed from Canada’s bid book. That decision will come from FIFA next week.

The women have chosen to announce the truce in the most subtle of ways. They still want the CSA to open its books, and are willing to go to arbitration to make sure that happens. Morace still doesn’t have what she is looking for, when it comes to control and funding.

When the boycott was launched, the women picked and chose which members of the media got interviews, and which didn’t. Interview requests made by The 11 went unanswered; including the ones sent to the team’s PR firm. Other colleagues had similar frustrations, while there were other media outlets that got access.

By going the Canadian Press route with this latest announcement, the women have made their short-but-sweet statement. A smart move.

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