February 28 – Just months after the country’s first appearance at the World Cup for 36 years and with plans already under way to jointly host the tournament in 2026, Canada’s football reputation has taken a hit off the field with the resignation of Canadian Soccer Association president Nick Bontis (pictured)..
Buffeted by the threat of strike action by the country’s women’s national team over a lack of pay equality and what the team viewed as unsatisfactory preparation plans for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, Bontis stepped down acknowledging change is needed to achieve peace with both the men’s and women’s teams.
Earlier this month, Canada’s male players called for the Canada Soccer leadership to be removed if it was “not willing to take immediate action to respond to the players’ demands and concerns” while the women added that “if Canada Soccer is not willing or able to support our team, new leadership should be found.”
“I acknowledge that this moment requires change,” Bontis said in a statement. “While I have been one of the biggest proponents of equalizing the competitive performance environment for our women’s national team, I will unfortunately not be leading this organization when it happens.”
“Canada Soccer and both of our national team programmes have the real potential to sign a historic collective bargaining agreement. Once signed, it will be a landmark deal that will set our nation apart from virtually every other FIFA member association.”
While Bontis was forced to quit at national level, his status within Concacaf was almost simultaneously enhanced. Last weekend he was elected as a CONCACAF Council vice-president for North America – a four-year mandate that runs through to the men’s World Cup in 2026 in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Bontis was appointed Canada Soccer president in November 2020, succeeding Steven Reed who in turn had taken over from Victor Montagliani, who was re-elected Saturday as CONCACAF president in a role which makes him a FIFA vice president through 2027.
The dispute within Canadian football has overshadowed the country’s selection as joint 2026 World Cup hosts, a huge move in the development of the sport. Canada’s men refused to play a planned exhibition against Panama last June at Vancouver while the women played the SheBelieves Cup this month only after Canada Soccer threatened legal action.
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