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Canadian men’s soccer team refusing to train over contract dispute

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Canada’s national men’s soccer team stayed off the pitch on Friday, refusing to train for Sunday’s World Cup warmup against Panama because of a dispute over player compensation, according to sources familiar with the matter.

It’s unclear whether players will appear at a scheduled training session on Saturday at UBC. It’s also unclear if players have threatened not to play in Sunday’s game at BC Place in Vancouver, which was scheduled after Canada Soccer cancelled a friendly match against Iran because of political pressure. The team is also scheduled to face Curacao at BC Place on June 9.

Players have been at odds with Canada Soccer executives for months after the national organization offered a new contract to the team, the sources said. The contract offer was tabled to players in April.

The proposed contract includes a tentative payment structure for qualifying for this year’s World Cup tournament in Qatar and includes set bonuses that depend on how far Canada advances in the event.

The winner of this year’s World Cup will receive $42 million (U.S.) of FIFA’s $440 million total prize money.

It’s unclear how much money teams will make for qualifying for the tournament, which begins Nov. 21, but Canada Soccer is believed to be poised to receive more than $10 million from FIFA, sources familiar with the matter said.

Canada Soccer has proposed that men’s national team players would receive about 10 per cent of that $10 million payment, with the balance going to fund items including the organization’s administration costs, a proposed national training centre in Vaughan, Ont., and grassroots soccer initiatives, the sources said, adding that the men’s national team players have asked for about 40 per cent of the World Cup bonus to be split between 33 players.

Canada Soccer disputed those figures early Saturday night, saying the demand from the team was for 75 to 100 per cent of the World Cup prize money. Canada Soccer says it offered 60 per cent, to be split equally between the men’s and women’s teams.

“At no time has Canada Soccer presented a proposal for 10 per cent of the FIFA World Cup prize money,” Canada Soccer said. “Nor, has the Association received a proposal from the Men’s National Team for 40 per cent of the prize money. To be clear, the Men’s National Team demand was for 75-100 per cent of the World Cup prize money. The Association, in an effort to adhere to the principle of pay equity, proposed 60 per cent of the FIFA World Cup prize money to be split between the two National Teams (i.e., 30 per cent + 30 per cent to the players of each team) and 40 per cent for the Association. The Association believes that this proposal follows the principles of fairness and equity.”

Canadian national team players and their agents have been in contact with members of the U.S. men’s national team, which recently agreed to a new contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation that will see the men’s and women’s teams be paid at the same rate for game appearances and tournament victories.

The new U.S. contracts include an unprecedented redistribution of the millions of dollars in World Cup prize money the men’s and women’s teams can earn by playing in the tournament and also contain new revenue-sharing agreements that may see the players receive millions more from their cut of U.S. Soccer’s commercial revenues each year.

U.S. national team players will now be paid $24,000 apiece for winning a World Cup qualifying match, bonuses for promotional appearances, and a portion of each ticket sold, in addition to benefits including child care (for both men’s and women’s team players) and matching payments for 401(k) retirement plans.

Canada Soccer has told players it cannot afford similar deals because it doesn’t entirely control its own broadcast and sponsorship rights thanks to a long-term contract it signed in 2018 with Canadian Soccer Business, an organization that has connections to the Canadian Premier League.

Some Canadian men’s national team players are also rankled over Canada Soccer’s plans to support players’ families during the World Cup, the sources said.

Canada Soccer has told players that they will receive two free tickets for each of Canada’s World Cup games, and that families and close friends will be responsible for paying their own way to Qatar and for their accommodations, the sources said.

During past World Cup tournaments, some European countries have provided each player with as many as eight tickets per game, covered the cost of accommodation, and chartered flights for their families, the sources said.

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Juan Brunetta has a goal and an assist to lead Liga MX All-Stars over MLS All-Stars 4-1

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Juan Brunetta and Maximiliano Meza scored a minute apart in the second half, and Mexico’s Liga MX All-Stars beat the Major League Soccer All-Stars 4-1 in the MLS All-Star Game on Wednesday night.

Brunetta (Tigres) scored in transition in the 68th minute to make it 3-1 and set up Meza (Monterrey) soon after in front of a record crowd of 20,931 at Lower.com Field.

It was the first MLS All-Star Game victory for Liga MX in three tries. The MLS All-Stars won in 2022 and won on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw a year earlier.

“It was an incredible game,” Liga MX coach Andre Jardine said. “There were a lot of high-level players. It was a tight game. Both teams definitely came out to play. In the second half they came out with a lot of great names as well. I was a bit surprised. It was a bit difficult, especially in the first 15 minutes, but we had to adjust and ultimately it was a great game.”

There were plenty of big names on the field, but the absence of the brightest and biggest one took some luster out of the event. The league announced Monday that Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi was unable to play because of ligament damage in his right ankle.

The 2022 World Cup champion was injured while playing for Argentina in its victory over Colombia in the Copa America final on July 14.

Fans cheered when Columbus forwards combined to tie the match 1-all in the 17th minute, about a minute after Germán Berterame (Monterrey) scored for Mexico on a header.

From the left flank, Diego Rossi found Crew teammate Cucho Hernandez racing unmarked down the middle of the box for the equalizer.

“Unbelievable for me to score in front of my home fans,” Hernandez said.

Oussama Idrissi (Pachuca) made it 2-1 in the 41st with a strike from the top of the penalty area.

MLS had two chances to tie it in the 63rd when Riqui Puig (Los Angeles Galaxy) hit the crossbar and on the follow, Luca Orellano (Cincinnati) was denied on a goal-line clearance by Unai Bilbao (Tijuana).

Minutes later, Liga MX put the game out of reach.

MLS recognized the revival of the Columbus market by awarding it the All-Star Game. The Crew, a 1996 charter member, were threatened in the fall of 2017 with relocation to Austin, Texas, by then-owner Anthony Precourt.

A grassroots movement called Save the Crew drew international attention and helped persuade Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam to buy the team and keep it in Columbus.

The Crew won the MLS Cup in 2020 and 2023, reached the final of the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup and opened Lower.com Field in 2021, where there have been 28 straight sellouts for MLS matches.

“It shows everyone the courage of the owner,” Crew and MLS All-Stars coach Wilfried Nancy said. “Listen, this is a representation of what Columbus is and the passion for the soccer.”

The All-Star squad had five Crew players. Hernandez and Rossi were joined by midfielder Darlington Nagbe and defenders Rudy Camacho and Steven Moreira.

UP NEXT

MLS and Liga MX continue the rivalry with the start of the Leagues Cup on Friday All 47 teams will compete in a World Cup-style format, with the championship match on Aug. 25. There will be 77 matches in the United States and Canada. Inter Miami is the defending Leagues Cup champion.

___

AP soccer:

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Chelsea salvages 2-2 tie with Wrexham in friendly at Levi’s Stadium

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Lesley Ugochukwu scored in the 82nd minute to help Chelsea salvage a 2-2 tie with Wrexham in a friendly match Wednesday night at Levi’s Stadium.

Ugochukwu rolled a shot from the middle of the box through traffic into the right corner.

Wrexham took a 2-1 lead when Jack Marriot scored on a counterattack in the 72nd minute.

Luke Bolton also scored for Wrexham, the Welsh team co-owned by Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds that was promoted this year to the third tier of English soccer.

Christopher Nkunku scored first for Chelsea in the perennial Premier League power’s first pre-season match and its first under manager, Enzo Maresca, the former Leicester City manager.

Nkunku fired a shot from the middle of the box into the left corner of the net past goalie Arthur Okonkwo in the 35th minute off an assist from Marc Guiu after a corner kick.

Wrexham tied it in the 58th minute when Bolton scored from the right wing off an assist from Sebastian Revan, who connected with Bolton on a crossing pass.

Chelsea goalkeeper Robert Sanchez blocked a breakaway shot from James McLean in the 29th minute.

Chelsea beat Wrexham 5-0 in a friendly last season.

UP NEXT

Wrexham: Visits the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.

Chelsea: Plays the Celtic on Saturday at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

AP soccer:

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Preseason Opener: Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea Takes on Wrexham

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Welcome to the first match of the summer, the first preseason game, and the first chance to see Enzo Maresca’s Chelsea in action. While the main focus today is on fitness, this game will undoubtedly spark analysis and excitement among fans.

Football, sort of, is back! Let’s see how the teams line up for this highly anticipated friendly.

Chelsea Starting XI:

  • Sánchez
  • James (c)
  • Tosin
  • Badiashile
  • Colwill
  • Lavia
  • Chukwuemeka
  • Nkunku
  • Madueke
  • Guiu
  • George

Substitutes:

  • Beach
  • Bergström
  • W. Fofana
  • Veiga
  • Acheampong
  • Gusto
  • Chilwell
  • Santos
  • Ugochukwu
  • Sterling
  • Ângelo
  • Broja

Wrexham Starting XI:

  • Okonkwo
  • Cleworth
  • Brunt
  • O’Connor
  • Bolton
  • Jones
  • Dobson
  • Lee
  • Revan
  • Palmer
  • McClean (c)

Substitutes:

  • Howard
  • Burton
  • Boyle
  • Barnett
  • James
  • Forde
  • Evans
  • Ashfield
  • Cannon
  • Davies
  • Bickerstaff
  • Waters
  • Dalby
  • Marriott

Match Details:

  • Date / Time: Wednesday, July 24, 7pm PDT; 3am BST (next day); 7:30am IST (next day)
  • Venue: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA, USA
  • On TV: ESPN (USA); none (UK); elsewhere
  • Streaming: ESPN+ (USA); Chelsea TV (int’l pay-per-view)

Both teams will be eager to test their tactics and players ahead of the upcoming season. Chelsea fans are particularly excited to see how new manager Enzo Maresca will shape the team, while Wrexham supporters are keen to see their team perform against top-tier opposition.

Let’s see how the starting formation and tactics unfold as we get a first glimpse of what’s to come this season. Stay tuned for an exciting game!ea

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