Nick Bontis steps down as the president of Canada Soccer
After a full three years of serving as the group's president, the McMaster professor steps down following an array of controversies
The past few years have been some of the best for Canadian soccer to date. In 2021, the women's national team achieved a spectacular achievement, winning the gold medal at the Olympics in Japan. This remarkable milestone was the first golden medal any Canadian soccer team won on the global stage, which has shown that there is significant potential within the country's soccer program.
Just a year later, the men's team has done something that hasn’t been done since 1986 — they qualified for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The success that Canadian soccer was picking up over the last two years period has been remarkable and has shown signs of improvement in both sections after a very long time.
All this success occurred under the recent president of Canada Soccer Association, and McMaster University professor, Nick Bontis. Bontis became the president of Canadian Soccer in Nov. 2020, after being selected by the board members in a successful run. However, on Feb. 27, he stepped down amid a letter from territorial and provincial soccer federations requesting he resigned due to the vast labor dispute between the women's and men's senior national teams.
What exactly happened to the Canadian Soccer federation as of late?
It all began with the She Believes Cup, a women's soccer tournament between four different countries, including Canada. Prior to the start of the tournament, CSA released a funding statement that outlined expenses for both men's and women's soccer teams where women's funding was significantly below their counterparts. Additionally, the team was informed that due to budget cuts, their time at the camp and the number of players invited has been reduced.
“Headed into the February window, CANWNT was set to participate in the tournament with the likes of USA, Brazil and Japan. Just as they arrived, they’ve been informed that due to the budgeting issues they will have to spend less time on camp and not have as many players invited. The players decided to strike and not play the SBC, to which CSA threatened to sue the group,” said Mariam Kourabi, founder of “She Scores Bangers”, a popular podcast that focuses on women's soccer in Canada and around the world.
Although there has been a significant dispute between the association and women's players, men’s players in the likes of Alistair Johnson have also stepped up to support the team in their actions.
After weeks of negotiations, Nick Bontis had decided to step down as president of the CSA, citing that “change is needed”. Although the change has been welcomed by many fans and analysts, it’s still not perfect according to Kourabi.
“It’s the first step in the right direction, he had treated the WNT as an afterthought with no vision in the program. The current acting president, Chermaine Crooks, has been the vice president until now and has been a part of his team throughout which is worrying,” explained Kourabi.
Not only has Crooks been a part of Bontis’ team until her presidency, but the players have also made it clear that they don’t have confidence in her as the acting president.
Although recent years have been some of the best for Canada Soccer, there are still these huge underlying issue to be resolved. The funding for both teams has not been equal and had not reflected the success of the women’s team, especially after the Olympics gold medal. After all the success, we are yet to see real change in the structure of the Canadian Soccer Association.