Recap: Canada Soccer Executives Testify To Heritage Committee
On Monday morning in Ottawa, Canada Soccer executives appeared via zoom to answer questions from the Heritage Committee in regard to the organization’s CSB deal, treatment of players, and labour negotiations.
Earl Cochrane, Canada Soccer’s general secretary, took most of the heat from the committee that was looking for answers – albeit short ones in a two-hour time frame.
Two weeks after the committee heard from Christine Sinclair, Janine Beckie, Sophie Schmidt, and Quinn, they were looking for the perspective from Canada Soccer.
A hot topic was finding out why Canada Soccer was implementing budget cuts despite both the men and women’s national teams being very successful in the past year.
The men are fresh off qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for the first time in 36 years while the women also qualified for the Women’s World Cup this summer in Australia and New Zealand.
Cochrane took responsibility for it and says in hindsight it might have been a mistake.
“Recently, Canada Soccer made some funding decisions for the operations of the women’s team that it thought would have minimal impact. We were wrong,” he said.
“Those decisions were made with good intentions of controlling spending, but we should not have made those decisions that negatively impacted the women’s team. Canada Soccer is now in conversations with the technical staff to reconfirm what they need to be successful at the World Cup and we are committed to meeting those needs.”
The women also testified that they weren’t pleased with the fact that the sponsorship money that they made was going to CSB, which is a company that owns and controls the CPL.
Cochrane mentioned the deal with CSB isn’t bad, but needs to be modernized and says they are working on it.
“There are two elements of the existing deal that we would like to see adjusted and those are the ability for us to reap the rewards of the success of our national teams… and the second is to address in some way, shape, or form the term.”
In a deal that was negotiated back in 2017-18, CSB pays Canada Soccer a guaranteed amount every year from 2019-2027 in exchange for the rights to sell broadcasting and corporate sponsorship rights for both the men’s and women’s teams.
According to a copy of the contract obtained by TSN, that annual amount was three million dollars.
Another Canada Soccer board member who was able to shine some more light was Paul-Claude Berube, and he confirmed the payout and that CSB generated 2.8 million in sponsorships in 2022.
The guaranteed amount to CSB grows every year and in 2027 will be 3.5 million dollars, a contract signed by Steve Reed who was Canada Soccer’s President from 2017 to 2020.
There is a clause in the deal that could potentially extend it for another 10 years which would pay Canada Soccer 4 million a year from 2028-2037.
“Prior to the CSB agreement, Canada Soccer was paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to broadcast women’s and men’s national team’s games,” explained Cochrane.
“No Canadian broadcaster was willing to pay to broadcast those games. The CSB agreement has resolved that issue and has helped grow the women’s game in Canada…Today, the unilateral term option and limited ability for us to share in upside revenue are drawbacks of the agreement with CSB, but we hope to resolve those issues shortly.”
The MPs kept criticizing the CSB deal while Cochrane and Berube kept defending it, with Berube mentioning that Canada Soccer only generated 1.4 million dollars in sponsorships dollars back in 2018.
Cochrane also said they had a meeting scheduled later in the day with both the men’s and women’s teams to discuss more of the financials.
“Simply put, national team players, regardless of their gender identity, will be paid the same amount for their work in representing our country,” Cochrane said.
“Canada Soccer has negotiated in good faith and will continue to do so. We have provided documentation to inform those negotiations. In fact, we have a financial information session with the teams in a few hours.”
The MPs also wanted to know what the Canada Soccer executives thought of the testimony Christine Sinclair made about former president Nick Bontis, alleging that he made insulting remarks during negotiations.
“As a board member, I can say that comment was unequivocally out of line and contrary to our values, which include success. …It was devastating to hear that there was a comment directed at Christine or a comment directed at anyone who is apart of the Canadian soccer community,” Canada Soccer board member Stephanie J. Geosits said.
The meeting began with the committee passing a motion to summon Nick Bontis, the organizations’s former President who tendered his resignation last month and wasn’t in the meeting today to the surprise of the MPs, along with Chief Financial officer Sean Heffernan and former Canada Soccer President (and current vice president of FIFA) Victor Montagliani.
The meeting for those three will take place before the end of March.