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Canada Soccer Amy Walsh

Amy Walsh: ‘Everything Happening Now, We Experienced Back Then’

By on May 17, 2023 0 1398 Views

With all the drama unfolding at Canada Soccer these past couple of years I was curious to find out if this was something new or if the federation always had a bad rep for mistreating players.

Amy Walsh, who most recently played for Canada back in 2009 and is now a sideline reporter for TSN 690 covering CF Montreal, graciously gave her time to explain her perspective and experience.

“Officially, when I retired in 2010 it was the beginning of a new cycle. We had just finished the Olympics in Beijing and everything happening now, we experienced it back then,” she states.

The Quebec native went on to give her perspective and opinion on what Canada Soccer has done from her own experiences.

Canada Soccer Amy Walsh
Walsh and members of the national team celebrate winning the 1998 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. (Photo Credit: Canada Soccer)

“There were advancements, but not to the same degree – but at the same time what the federation is now providing to the women’s team fails in what the men’s team gets, and you’re talking about straight budget breakdowns and strictly talking about camps, resources, staff, and basic treatment which is what I describe as equity.”

“That, unfortunately, has failed to keep pace with the results that the women are providing and what the national team is providing.”

I then proceeded to get her input on what she thought of the testimony being given at the Heritage Committee in Ottawa.

“I think that delving into the governance of a national sporting organization across the board in Canada and trying to figure out why they are so poorly run is essential. I think we need an inquiry, and the government has to step in and become involved because it is much more than compensation.”

“The players outlined it: it is gender equity, it is governance, financial management, and a lack of transparency, also covering up abuse, so we need to get down to the bottom of it and have all these testimonials.”

Members of the women’s national team testify to the heritage committee this year.

Walsh is really unsure if they were able to get to the bottom of the CSB deal, which has caused a stir between the players and the federation.

“Did we really get to the bottom of the CSB deal and why they decided to pull the funding of the women a few months before a World Cup? I don’t think we got to why, which we would have liked – quite frankly I think it is a step in the right direction.”

“Charmaine Crooks goes from interim president to the elected president for the remainder of Nick Bontis’s term, so you hope that things will be a run a bit differently. I hope to be pleasantly surprised but the bar is set unfortunately very low.”

Jason DeVos, who was part of John Herdman’s coaching staff last year, was officially named the interim general secretary after Earl Cochrane stepped down. I asked Walsh what she thought of the appointment.

“His approach is that he is an ex-player and part of a Gold Cup-winning team in 2000 that saw some success that Canada and its fans and men’s national team had to wait a long time to see again. They were crowned kings of Concacaf and qualified for their first World Cup in 36 years.”

“I think he has that, and he brings it with his experience with both teams when the women won Bronze in 2016 in Rio and as a director of player development, so he has a lot of credibility coming into this post. So, you hope that background will give him a lot of empathy in that role-making decisions and relate to the player reps and the two national teams.”

“I think he is the right man for the job and hopefully he can help Canada Soccer move on from its shameful past. It’s a step in the right direction.”

Canada Soccer Charmaine Crooks
Charmaine Crooks speaks at a Canada Soccer event in 2023. (Photo Credit: Canada Soccer)

I also asked Walsh point blank if she believes there will be progress in the next year under Crooks or if she feels the fight for gender equality and pay equity will continue.

“They need to make sure that the federation keeps coming back to the fact that they are absolutely going to agree to the still-unsigned CBA, and to equal pay. It’s fine to push that publicly with your players and be historic following the lead of the USSF.”

She also spoke about the other side if they aren’t able to come to an agreement.

“If you are unable to provide equity to your women’s national team and give them the same resources, the same funding, the same support staff that they need in order to be successful as the sixth-ranked team in the world coming into the World Cup, then it doesn’t mean anything.”

“Right now there are issues and discrepancies with equal pay and your ability to provide for arguably your best national team – and one that has provided results for you, and performed on the world stage, so that has to be something Crooks gets behind and rectifies very quickly.”

I was also curious to know what Walsh thought of the CSB deal and the fact it was negotiated and approved without any player approval.

“I think that when it was first made public, honestly for me it flew under the radar a little bit. Again, going back to the word transparency, they push it through and it seems like a good deal in their words – I think when they signed it there were all kinds of issues, and even Crooks mentioned it needs to be amended.”

“I don’t think it needs to be ripped up, I think that the fact the CPL links to that deal and perhaps the success of it… you need to make sure that the CPL is a sustainable league, especially with Project 8 coming.”

Halifax Wanderers Theo Collomb
Photo Credit: Trevor MacMillan / Halifax Wanderers

Walsh believes the CPL can’t just stay afloat, but needs to thrive in order for Project 8 to do the same.

“It needs to continue to be successful and continue to make strides, but I don’t think you need a men’s domestic league at the expense of funding your national team, and to go back into that deal and make sure you can capitalize on the success of your national teams.”

“You need to make sure that the sponsorship revenue that Canada Soccer generates also comes back to support and hold up the two national teams, but also beneath it your youth structure, but also all the other programs at Canada Soccer – so one shouldn’t be at the expense of the other.”

I finally asked what Walsh thought of Christine Sinclair’s testimony in regards to Canada Soccer negotiating behind the backs of players, and if the players should be involved next time a deal like this comes around..

“I think a deal like the CSB deal, where all of your sponsorship revenue is being funneled into the CSB away from the national teams, absolutely [they should be involved]. I am hesitant though to say if they should be involved in decision making and it goes back to the voting structure.”

“I think you need to weigh it to reflect not necessarily wielding power, but just give them a voice so you include more alumni and players that can be consulted. Their voice needs to be heard.”

Header Image Photo Credit: Canada Soccer

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