Canada’s women’s team say they will not go on strike because of threats of legal action by Canada Soccer.
Captain Christine Sinclair said on Friday the team would strike because of concerns over funding cuts and a lack of pay equity.
The team said they would call off the strike as they “cannot afford the risks” any action will entail.
Sinclair said the team were playing the upcoming SheBelieves Cup tournament “in protest”.
Canada will face the United States in the multi-team tournament on 17 February.
A joint statementexternal-link released on Saturday by the players said Canada Soccer had “told us they consider our job action to be an unlawful strike”.
Canada Soccer said it respected the players’ right to organise but they “were not and are not in a legal strike position under Ontario labour law”.
“We are being forced back to work for the short term,” Sinclair wrote on Twitter.external-link
“This is not over. We will continue to fight for everything we deserve and we will win.”
The governing body met with representatives of the women’s player’s union on Saturday.
In a statement released by the Canadian Soccer Players’ Association (CSPA), the players said they would return to training from Sunday.
However, they emphasised that they still believe the national team programme is “unacceptable” and that Canada Soccer needs to do more to support the players.
“Canada Soccer told us that if we did not return to work – and did not commit today to playing against the United States – they would not only take legal action to force us back to the pitch but would consider taking steps to collect what could be millions of dollars in damages from our players association and from each of the individual players currently in camp,” the statement read.
“As individual players who have received no compensation yet for any of our work for Canada Soccer in 2022, we cannot afford the risks that personal action against us by them will create.
“We continue to believe that unless we stand up together and demand more, nothing will ever change.”
In response, Canada Soccer said it had committed to a “historic comprehensive collective agreement” that would deliver change for the women’s and men’s teams.
“Canada Soccer was not prepared to jeopardise the SheBelieves Cup tournament or the preparation it would afford the women’s national team for the upcoming World Cup,” a statement read.external-link
“Canada Soccer therefore took the necessary steps to ensure that such games will be played as scheduled.
“Canada Soccer is heartened that the women’s team will play as it committed.”
Canada’s men went on strike in June 2022 after accusing the governing body of “disrespect” over World Cup prize money.