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Olympian Charmaine Crooks is first woman to lead Canada Soccer

Olympian Charmaine Crooks is first woman to lead Canada Soccer

March 1, 2023 (AFP)

Former Olympic athlete Charmaine Crooks was named acting president of the Canadian soccer federation on Wednesday, becoming the first woman and person of color to hold the position.

Crooks was the first Canadian to compete in five Olympic Games and held the position of vice-president of Canada Soccer for the past two years.

Her interim appointment as head of the organization comes amid a gender equity dispute with the Canadian women's team that led to the former president Nick Bontis to resign suddenly earlier this week.

"The job ahead for our organizations, our sport, and for the players who wear our Canadian jersey, is as important to me as any race I've competed in," Crooks said in a statement.

"I know and understand the calls to get this right, and I am certain that we will be able to deliver real progress for our National Teams all the way on down to our grassroots," she said.

In February, Canada Soccer was plunged into crisis with the country's women's squad threatening to boycott the SheBelieves Cup tournament in the United States.

The Canadian women -- the reigning Olympic champions -- had vowed to go on strike over pay, funding and contractual issues while demanding the same terms as the men's team.

The women eventually called off the strike threat after being informed that boycotting the friendly tournament would be unlawful and could trigger legal action.

Crooks, a silver medalist in the 4x400m relay in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is a former member of the International Olympic Committee having previously served on the athletes Commission. 

She is one of a growing number of women heading football federations alongside Cindy Parlow, the first woman president of US Soccer; Debbie Hewitt, the chairwoman of England's Football Association; and Lise Klaveness, president of Norway's federation.

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