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Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis resigns, says change is needed

A bitter labour dispute has plagued both the women’s and men’s Canadian teams for months
Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis speaks during a news conference, in Vancouver, on Sunday, June 5, 2022. Bontis has resigned as president of Canada Soccer, acknowledging change is needed to achieve labour peace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Nick Bontis has resigned as president of Canada Soccer, acknowledging change is needed to achieve labour peace with the Canadian men’s and women’s teams.

The move comes in the wake of a letter from provincial and territorial soccer leaders asking Bontis to step down given the bitter labour dispute with both the Canadian teams. Bontis resigned during a board meeting Monday, Canada Soccer said.

“Canada Soccer and both of our national team programs have the real potential to sign a historic collective bargaining agreement,” Bontis said in a statement Monday. “Once signed, it will be a landmark deal that will set our nation apart from virtually every other FIFA member association.

“While I have been one of the biggest proponents of equalizing the competitive performance environment for our women’s national team, I will unfortunately not be leading this organization when it happens. I acknowledge that this moment requires change.”

The labour impasse prompted the Canadian men to boycott a planned friendly against Panama in Vancouver last July. The Canadian women downed tools before the recent SheBelieves Cup, returning to the pitch under protest after Canada Soccer threatened legal action.

Bontis, who was elected president in November 2020 succeeding Steven Reed, said his resignation is effective immediately.

“Serving as a volunteer for this organization, and witnessing the tremendous achievements we’ve been able to accomplish together, has been some of the proudest moments of my life,” he said. “Olympic success for our women’s national team. Genuine diversity on our board of directors, including our first ever female vice-president. Our first men’s FIFA World Cup goal at Qatar 2022. Winning the bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup at home.

“I know in my heart that there is more to come.”

Away from Canada Soccer, Bontis is chair of strategic management at McMaster University’s DeGroote School of Business.

Bontis has been a member of Canada Soccer’s board of directors since 2012, serving in several different roles including vice-president and chair of the strategic management committee.

Bontis was said to be in transit Monday from Guatemala where he was named CONCACAF Council vice-president (North America) on Saturday at the 38th CONCACAF Ordinary Congress.

—Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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