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Purple protest as Canada players take pay dispute to the pitch



Members of Canada’s National Women’s soccer team wear protest t-shirts before their match against the U.S. at the SheBelieves Cup women’s soccer tournament in Orlando, Florida, U.S., February 16, 2023. REUTERS/Joe

The Canadian women’s soccer team took their dispute with their national association onto the pitch on Thursday by wearing purple jerseys with “Enough is Enough” written on the front ahead of their SheBelieves Cup opener against the United States.

The team’s protest is the latest escalation in their dispute with Canada Soccer over pay equity issues.

“Tonight, our players will be wearing purple as a symbol of protest,” said the Canadian Players Association in a statement.

“Considering the current circumstances, our players will continue to wear purple until our association has standard in place that ensure equal treatment and opportunity.”

The Canadians wore the purple t-shirts during warmups at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida before changing into their traditional red kit but wearing purple tape on their wrists.

Purple has historically been associated with efforts to achieve gender equality.


The Canadians lost the match 2-0.

The Olympic champions had boycotted training last Saturday while demanding immediate changes but reversed course later that day as Canada Soccer called their strike unlawful and threatened legal action.

The squad said they would play under protest at the four-nation SheBelieves Cup.

In a media call on Tuesday, the players said the “disgusting” discrepancy between the Canada men’s and women’s soccer programmes became obvious last year in Qatar, where Canada’s men made their first World Cup appearance in 37 years in November.

Canada Soccer spent $11 million on the men’s programme in 2021, and $5.1 million on the women.


Canada Soccer has said it has a “proven track record” of supporting the women’s game and that pay equity was “at the core” of ongoing player negotiations. 

U.S. forward Mallory Swanson scored both goals against Canada on Thursday.

She connected with a cross from Alex Morgan for a stunning finish in the seventh minute before slotting home in the 34th minute following a defensive mistake from Canada.

Canada captain Christine Sinclair said the team were “mentally exhausted”.

“Either we’re fighting for everything and come out on fire or we come out flat. And I think you saw those first 10, 15 minutes, we came out flat,” Sinclair said.


“I think we looked like a team that was tired, a team that’s mentally exhausted, coming up against a team, I mean, they’re defending World Cup champions for a reason and you have to be at your best to compete with them. And we weren’t tonight.”

The Canadians will face Brazil on Sunday before taking on Japan three days later.

Brazil defeated Japan 1-0 in the tournament’s opening match, Debinha scoring the only goal.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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