Yes, Christine Sinclair is disappointed that it came to this. Yes, she and her teammates realize the ramifications of what they are doing. And, yes, they know that this comes at the worst possible time.
But don't ask her to apologize.
Sinclair and the Canadian women's soccer team recently retained legal counsel in a dispute with the Canadian Soccer Association, the sport's governing body in Canada. The players have threatened to file an arbitration suit over how they are paid with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.
At the same time, the players have gone on strike in support of Carolina Morace, claiming they will not play an international game until the CSA resolves the situation with the team's Italian-born coach.
Morace, who took over the coaching reins in early 2009, announced last Friday her intention to step down following the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, which runs from June 26 to July 17 in Germany.
Morace cited differences with the CSA over the long-term strategy of the women's team. In a sign of how much she is beloved by her players, Sinclair, the team's captain, and her teammates voted unanimously to strike.
Sinclair, a 27-year-old forward from Burnaby, B.C., acknowledged both the potential arbitration suit and the boycott are extreme measures to take so close to the start of the World Cup.
"I think that's the point. We tried very nicely, especially over the past two years, to deal with the CSA [about financial compensation] without much response. This is the time," Sinclair told CBC Sports.
"We know that every day or game that we might miss in the build-up for the World Cup diminishes our chances. But we're fighting for things beyond the World Cup — we're fighting for the young players on the team and the young players within Canada that have dreams and aspirations of representing their country.
"We're doing this now, so they wont have to."
How did it get to this point?
How did it get to this point? Sinclair maintains the women have been battling the CSA for compensation for 10 years in order to get some sort of pay structure in place.
"This is something that's been going on for a long time, ever since I've been a member of the national team. We as players have been battling with the CSA to try to get the proper compensation and the proper support," Sinclair said.
"With the news that our coach was going to resign after the World Cup and with the World Cup looming, we felt that this was our time and place to make a stand."
The women contend that the Canadian men's team has a fixed-term arrangement with the CSA under which they are compensated on a per-game basis. The women say they want a similar deal, instead of receiving what they call ad-hoc compensation from the CSA.
Members of the women's team receive approximately $1,500 a month from Sport Canada. Currently, the players also negotiate compensation with the CSA for each tournament they participate in.
Through their legal counsel, the players are negotiating with the CSA over the compensation issue. But if an agreement can't be reached, the team is prepared to file an arbitration suit.
"Ultimately we're just frustrated," Sinclair admitted. "We didn't want it to come to this point five months before the opening game of the World Cup because our focus should be on the World Cup."
CBC Sports commentator Jason de Vos, a former captain of the men's national team, believes a prolonged boycott this close to the World Cup could undermine Canada's chances for success in Germany.
"Its not ideal preparation. It's not a great way to go about it," said de Vos. "But if you're a player and you're in their shoes, and you feel you've been pushed to that and you feel there's no other option, I think that's where the team is at now.
"They feel they don't have a choice. It's a difficult position to be in and I certainly sympathize with them."
As for the boycott, Sinclair stated the players had to do something to show their support for Morace.
"Our coach, she's changed this program around. She is the main reason why heading into the World Cup we feel we can do some great things," Sinclair said. "It's a shame that it has got to this point — here we have this most amazing coach, and we feel that the CSA will just let her go."
There is hope, though, as the CSA has reached out to Morace and is trying to set up a face-to-face meeting with the coach in order to listen to her concerns and try to convince her to reconsider her resignation.
"If the CSA came back in their dealings with Carolina and progress had been made, our boycott [would end]," said Sinclair.
The resolve of the women over the boycott could be tested in the coming weeks.
The Canadian team is supposed fly to Rome on Friday for a training camp conducted by Morace ahead of the Cyprus Cup, an exhibition tournament it is scheduled to compete in that starts on Feb. 28.
"We're hoping to go to Europe and train, and things get resolved and we play in the tournament. Ideally, that is what is going to happen," stated Sinclair.