• Wed. Oct 4th, 2023

In soccer, player revolts plunge Women's World Cup buildup into turmoil

BySymbels Journal

Mar 1, 2023

Members of the French team celebrate after scoring the first goal during the Tournoi de France women’s friendly football match between France and Denmark on Feb. 15, 2023.

Jean-francois Monier | AFP | Getty Images

Player protests and high-level resignations are dominating headlines amid a growing sense of reckoning in women’s soccer less than five months before the World Cup kicks off.

Noel Le Graet, president of France’s soccer federation or FFF, resigned on Tuesday, while Canada Soccer boss Nick Bontis stepped down a day earlier with those countries’ players embroiled in bitter disputes with their federations.

Canada’s women’s team have vowed to boycott a pre-World Cup camp next month over equal pay and support, while Le Graet faced allegations of harassment. A government ministry audit concluded the 81-year-old Le Graet did not have the “necessary legitimacy” for the position.

French women’s coach Corinne Diacre is also under fire and her future may be decided on March 9 by an FFF select committee.

Spain has also been rocked by a revolt by 15 players, who withdrew from selection consideration in protest at coach Jorge Vilda.

While the clashes could cast a cloud over the women’s global showcase, which begins on July 20 in New Zealand and Australia, players have vowed their fights are far from over, and some say the recent resignations should be just the tip of widespread changes.

“Bontis’ departure MUST trigger sweeping change,” Amy Walsh, who played for Canada at the 2008 Olympics and earned 102 caps, posted on Twitter. “It’s not enough.

“Our athletes — as well as future generations of Canadian footballers — deserve so much better.”

Neither Bontis nor Le Graet, however, are leaving the game. Bontis was named CONCACAF Council vice-president (North America) on Saturday, while Le Graet, who has denied all accusations, has reportedly been pegged to lead FIFA’s Paris office.

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