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Canadian women's soccer players 'supported well,' says Herdman

Canadian women’s soccer coach John Herdman understands the frustration of several U.S. players regarding wage discrimination, but doesn't seem the same problem occurring with his team.

U.S. players filed wage discrimination complaint

Canadian coach John Herdman thinks pay inequality within sports like soccer is slowly coming to an end. (Neil Davidson/Canadian Press)

Canadian women's soccer coach John Herdman understands the frustration of several U.S. players regarding wage discrimination, but doesn't think it's a problem with his team.

Americans Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo accused the U.S. Soccer Federation of wage discrimination in a filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Thursday.

They claim their male counterparts were paid four times more than any of the top players on the women's team.   

The U.S. women have been a soccer power since they won the inaugural World Cup in 1991, and have been far more successful than their male compatriots for the last three decades.

Still, Herdman doesn't see the filing as a positive thing for the American team with the Rio Olympics only four months away.  

"I think what happens in the U.S. is the U.S.'s business," Herdman told CBC. "I look at the U.S. team and just wonder where their attention is going to be so close to an Olympic event… maybe because they've won it so many times [four gold medals] they can spread their attention across a number of different topics. So maybe the U.S. is at a stage where they need to ask these questions.

The 40-year-old coach, who guided his Canadian team to an historic bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, doesn't see the same problem existing in Canada.

"We've just got to focus on getting back to this [Olympic] podium and keep building the profile of football here in Canada.," he said.

'Committment' in Canada

Similar to the U.S. squad, the Canadian women have far surpassed the men in performance and results. But without revealing any statistics, Herdman said his team has been rewarded for its success.

"I think that's the great part of the commitment Canada Soccer [CSA] has put in place, and not only Canada Soccer, but Own The Podium and all the supporting agencies that support athletes here in Canada. I think our athletes are supported well. Look, everyone would like more, no matter who comes to work.

"I mean people would like more dollars in their bank account because housing prices are going up, but I think the realities are our success, which started from 2012 and continued with the success of the women's [2015] World Cup [in Canada]… we put $150 million into women's football over a four-year period to bring the tournament here and get the team ready. So there's a lot going into women's development here in Canada."

For its part, the CSA told the Globe and Mail "there is not a [pay] disparity," between the men and women's national teams.

Herdman also thinks pay inequality within sports like soccer is slowly changing. He points to women's tennis players, who fought to earn equal prize money, as a sign of the changing times.

"I think the gender parity across business, across all walks of life is topical," he said. "I mean, it's been a topic for many years and I think there will be a time where we won't talk about this again. But still, in today's society, in business, politics or whatever, the gender question and imparity is still asked.

"I've got a six-year-old daughter who's exposed to whatever she wants. She does whatever she wants on this planet, she's got access to everything. And when she becomes a teenager and a young woman, the world will be a completely different place, and that's because some hard questions are being asked over the last 30 years, and a few more need to be asked. But things have changed in women's sports, particularly in women's football.

"I've got a feeling in five, 10 years' time this won't even be a conversation we'll be having."

Clarifications

  • In an earlier version, it was stated Canada Soccer hoped to release details of the funding allocation between the men and women's national teams sometime next week. Instead, the CSA is collecting information and looking into this.
    Apr 01, 2016 5:38 PM ET

With files from The Associated Press

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