Priestman 'committed' to CanWNT despite reports she's mulling exit
The head coach of Canada's women's soccer team, Bev Priestman, said Wednesday she's "committed" to her players after a report in England suggested she was considering leaving the program.
Earlier Wednesday, The Guardian's Suzanne Wrack reported Priestman, who won Olympic gold with the women's team last year, was unsure whether to continue coaching Canada following the women's World Cup. The tournament kicks off July 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
Canada Soccer is currently embroiled in a legal spat with the women's team over a range of issues, including pay equity and cuts to its training schedule. The players threatened to strike Saturday, days before the start of the SheBelieves Cup, but Canada Soccer forced them back to work. The players said Canada Soccer considered the strike unlawful and would attempt to collect millions of dollars in damages if they forfeited their participation in the tournament.
"Obviously, post-gold medal, there's been regular opportunities put in front of me," Priestman told reporters, including Neil Davidson of The Canadian Press. "But I think that the biggest thing is I'm committed to this group of players, and I've shared some incredible moments with them. And I want those moments to continue.
"It is a really difficult circumstance. We can't hide from that. But my aim is to be with this group of players and to share more incredible moments."
The 36-year-old wouldn't comment on Canada Soccer's budget cuts, which reportedly affect the number of days the women can train going forward. The federation is also expected to cut the number of players and staff invited to camps.
"It's gotten to the point where, at least for me personally, until this is resolved, I can't represent this federation," Christine Sinclair, Canada's all-time leading scorer, told TSN last weekend.
However, the women will play their opening match of the SheBelieves Cup as scheduled Thursday. Canada faces the United States at Orlando's Exploria Stadium.