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Canada football chief resigns amid gender equity furore

The head of Canada’s ruling football body resigned on Monday, saying change was needed at the top of the organization in the wake of a gender equity dispute with the Canadian women’s team.

Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis said in a statement that while there was “real potential” of agreeing a collective bargaining agreement for Canada’s men’s and women’s teams, it was time for him to go.

“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,” Bontis wrote in a statement.

“I acknowledge that this moment requires change.

“Today, I have submitted my resignation, effective immediately, to Canada Soccer’s Board of Directors.”

Bontis’s decision to resign comes two weeks after Canadian soccer was plunged into crisis with the country’s women’s squad threatening to boycott the SheBelieves Cup tournament in the United States.

The Canadian women, the reigning Olympic champions, had vowed to go on strike over pay, funding and contractual issues.

The women eventually called off the strike threat after being informed that boycotting the friendly tournament would be unlawful and trigger legal action.

The women had hit out at Canada Soccer after claiming they received no pay in 2022.

The Canadian women also slammed budget cuts that they argued had compromised the team’s preparations for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, contrasting it to the resources made available to the Canadian men’s team before their appearance at the 2022 World Cup.

“All we’re asking for is to be given equal opportunity to our men’s team to get ready for our World Cup,” Canada forward Janine Beckie said earlier this month.

Canada’s men’s team have also backed the women, saying in a statement on February 10 they “wholeheartedly support” the squad.

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