June 10, 2023
Canada Soccer reportedly signs deal with Alphonso Davies for naming and image rights |  CBC sport

Canada Soccer reportedly signs deal with Alphonso Davies for naming and image rights | CBC sport

Finally, tangible progress on the labor front at the Canada men’s soccer team.

Canada Soccer has reached an agreement with Alphonso Davies, its star man, for name/image likeness rights, according to a source.

According to the source, who asked not to be identified, the deal now only needs final signatures as the agreement is yet to be announced.

CBC Sports has not independently verified the report.

“I can confirm that we are very close to the finish line,” Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane said Tuesday when asked about an agreement.

Davies became the latest hot spot between Canada Soccer and its players last week when TSN reported that the representative for Davies Fanatics, which runs Canada Soccer’s merch website and sells licensed sporting goods, had said it was no longer permitted to Davies shirt for sale because the governing body has no agreement to market the likeness and image of the Bayern Munich full-back.

Cochrane, who confirmed that Davies rep Nick Huoseh had asked for the jersey to be removed, said the board of directors had been in talks with the Davies camp for several weeks over a name and image similarity deal.

Name/image similarity rights have been an issue in talks between Canada Soccer and the players ahead of the World Cup, Davies’ kit is by far the best-selling Canadian men’s kit.

“We only want what is fair”

“National team players have never received royalties from jersey sales and they should,” Nick Huoseh told TSN. “We only want what’s fair, and they definitely can and should do that.”

Huoseh did not immediately respond to a request from The Canadian Press on Tuesday.

Canada Soccer originally assumed that such rights would reside with the newly formed Canadian Men’s Players’ Association. But Davies’ rights actually belong to a third party company, Davies’ own AD 19 Inc.

At the same time, talks are being held with the men’s players’ association about rights to names and images.

Dissatisfaction with the state of labor negotiations prompted the Canadian men to boycott a planned friendly against Panama in Vancouver in June, citing “unnecessarily long” negotiations for a deal with Canada Soccer.

The Canadian men then formed a players’ association (the Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team Players Association) while compensation negotiations continued, following the lead of the women’s team, represented by the Canadian Soccer Players Association (CSPA).

The new association includes players who have been called up to a men’s national team camp since January 2021.

Watch the new CBC Sports show Soccer North, airing weekly on CBC Gem and the CBC Sports YouTube channel starting October 28. Hosted by Andi Petrillo, Soccer North brings Canadians the hottest soccer headlines on and off the field.

As negotiations were also ongoing with the Canadian women, the decision was made to have an equal agreement for men and women.

In many ways, Canada Soccer is catching up with a men’s team that went from 0 to 60 very quickly, a process accelerated in part by its eye-popping performance in a World Cup qualifying trip thickened by the pandemic.

“The reality is that it’s only in the last six to eight months that we’ve really started to capitalize on this success of our men’s national team. [That] at that time we started selling the jerseys and personalized name and number T-[shirts]said Cochrane.

Players like Davies, Jonathan David (Lille, France), Milan Bojan (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia) and Tajon Buchanan and Cyle Larin (Club Brugge, Belgium) are also playing on the big European stages these days.

“We never had a written contract with the men in terms of name/image resemblance,” Cochrane said in an interview. “We had with the women. We have had a collective agreement with the women for almost 10 years.

“And so there is a certain language in the women’s agreement that we have followed and have always followed. And that language is the language that we used in relation to the men in those situations.”

He said the women’s agreement uses what he calls a “global standard” that does not require additional compensation “if you use an image of four or more athletes in a group picture.”

Cochrane says the “vast majority” of players who have been asked to have their likeness used in the past “have always responded positively.”

Canada Soccer previously negotiated compensation with the men’s team on a case-by-case basis. The question of World Cup compensation remains on the table.

FIFA paid out $400 million in prize money at the 2018 World Cup, ranging from $38 million for the winner to $8 million for each of the 17th-32nd place teams.

Rapid rise

One of the reasons the women had an agreement that covered image rights was that they were more successful and in demand than the men.

When John Herdman switched from coaching Canada women to men in January 2018, the men were ranked 95th in the world, sandwiched between Belarus and Congo. The women, Olympic bronze medalists under Herdman, were fifth at the time.

The ascent was rapid.

In December 2021, FIFA named Canada, then ranked 40th, as the “most improved side” in terms of ranking points accumulated over the past 12 months.

The Davies camp also dismissed a proposed Gatorade ad involving the Bayern Munich full-back and several Canadian teammates, citing an existing deal with rival energy drink BioSteel that was signed in September.

Cochrane says Canada Soccer understood Davies’ reasons for doing so.

Players are entitled to negotiate their own sponsorship deals. You just can’t refer to Canada Soccer or wear the national team jersey.

If a sponsor came to Canada Soccer to request a player in an ad in Canadian colors, the player would be compensated — if the ad featured fewer than four athletes, Cochrane said. Such deals would be viewed as team endorsements rather than personal ones, he added.

Under a 10-year deal announced in March 2018, Canada Soccer Business will act as Canada Soccer’s agent for corporate sponsorship and broadcasting rights. Money from such agreements goes to Canada Soccer Business, which in turn pays an annual fee to Canada Soccer.

This agreement, which helped fund the start of the Canadian Premier League, does not affect the World Cup prize money.

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