Former athlete Charmaine Crooks takes over as Canada Soccer interim president

March 3 – Charmaine Crooks has been appointed interim president of Canada Soccer in the wake of Nick Bontis’ resignation while agreement has been reached with the women’s national team on an interim funding agreement that should go a long way to ending a festering dispute.

Canada Soccer and the women’s team issued a joint statement saying the terms of the agreement include “per-game incentives and results-based compensation” similar to that of the men’s team. The federation is still negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with both.

“This is about respect, this is about dignity, and this is about equalising the competitive environment in a world that is fundamentally unequal,” Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane said in a statement. “We have been consistent and public about the need to have fairness and equal pay be pillars of any new agreements with our players, and we are delivering on that today.”

The dispute between both national teams and Canada Soccer stretches back to last June when the men’s team – at the time preparing for its first World Cup appearance in 36 years – boycotted a match against Panama in Vancouver.

The women’s team threatened last month not to play in the SheBelieves Cup but relented after Canada Soccer threatened legal action. They took the field wearing purple shirts that read “enough is enough” ahead of their opening match at the annual round-robin tournament.

Crooks, a former Olympian, had been vice president of Canada Soccer before being promoted to the hot seat – the first woman and person of colour appointed to the role.

Crooks, 60, won a silver medal as a member of Canada’s four-by-400 metre relay team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and is seen as an experienced pair of hands to take over the beleaguered organisation from Bontis. She has been on the Canada Soccer board since 2013-14 and was elected vice-president in November 2020.

“I know and understand the calls to get this right, and I am certain that we will be able to deliver real progress for our national teams all the way on down to our grassroots,” she said at the end of a hectic week for the organisation.

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