Home USA News Canada heads home from the World Cup with work to do

Canada heads home from the World Cup with work to do

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) — While Canada is understandably disappointed to return home after the World Cup group stage, in some ways the team’s work is just beginning with its sights set on 2026.

The Canadians will turn their attention to preparing for the next World Cup, which they will host together with the United States and Mexico. Part of that job will be building a team that goes deep into the tournament.

Canada played in its first men’s World Cup in 36 years and only its second overall in Qatar. A 1-0 loss to Belgium in the opener followed by a 4-1 win by Croatia killed the Canadians’ chances of advancing to the knockout rounds before their final Group F game against Morocco on Thursday.

“This last game is about getting a result and getting a win for Canada and getting this country to believe we’re on the right track going into 2026,” coach John Herdman said.

Canada has risen to the world stage in the four years since Herdman took over. In 2021 alone, the team rose from #72 in the FIFA rankings to #40.

Because of that low ranking, Canada had to go through the first two rounds of CONCACAF qualification, but came out on top ahead of third-placed Mexico and the United States, who both qualified for the finals.

However, the top-ranked NCC team became the second team to be eliminated from the World Cup, joining hosts Qatar.

Alphonso Davies saved the team at the World Cup by scoring Canada’s first-ever men’s World Cup goal against Croatia. Davies, who plays for Bayern Munich, is part of a group of Canadian players who have attracted attention at the international level, along with top scorer Cyle Larin, who plays in Belgium for Club Brugge, and Jonathan David of France’s Lille.

A nation better known for its hockey, Canada invested heavily in its soccer infrastructure ahead of the 2015 Women’s World Cup it hosted. Herdman led the home team in this tournament and is the first coach to lead both the men’s and women’s teams to the World Cup.

The women’s side flourished, led by Christine Sinclair, the top scorer in international football for both men and women with 190 goals. The Canadian women, who won gold at the Tokyo Olympics, will compete in the women’s world championships in Australia and New Zealand next summer.

Inspired by the historic equal pay agreement between the U.S. men and women and their federation, Canada’s players are now in contract negotiations and seeking a similar agreement with Canada Soccer.

Last summer, the men asked for 40% of the World Cup prize money, a trip for friends and family and “a fair structure with our women’s national team that shares equal player match fees, a percentage of prize money earned from our respective FIFA World Cups and national development women’s league”.

The Canadian women said they don’t consider an equal percentage of prize money equal pay. The Americans’ deal splits the combined prize money down the middle after US Soccer takes a cut.

Canada Soccer says progress has been made in negotiations and believes a resolution will come soon.

“Canada Soccer has ongoing discussions with our national teams that are always based on our values ​​of fairness and equity in pay — addressing previously unbalanced standards,” the federation said in a statement to The Associated Press.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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