If you are a Canadian and want to buy a #19 soccer jersey with Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies’ name on it, you are now out of luck.
Davies’ agent, Nick Huoseh, has told retailers to stop selling the jersey as the national team does not have the right to use Davies’ name or image in it’s promotion. In addition he has also recently turned down a request from the national organization to appear in ads for the national side for their sponsor Gatorade.
This is an escalation in a long running contract dispute between Canada’s national team players that saw the cancellation of an exhibition game against Panama in June of this year when the players refused to play in protest over Canada Soccer dragging their feet over new contract negotiations.
The issues between the players and organization are many, and fundamental. They include image and name rights, more transparency on the business side, success bonuses and how friends and family who go to Qatar will be funded and treated. The players say they are being stonewalled and Canada Soccer is mismanaging the team’s business issues, while management says the player demands would bankrupt the organization.
In particular the players seem quite annoyed that Canada Soccer did not ensure that Nike would be providing a new jersey for the side’s first appearance at the World Cup in 36 years.
Davies is not alone in his actions. Many other players have now refused to participate in ads with team sponsors and many players have gone a step farther and taken paid spots with Nike rival Adidas who are producing generic red “Canada” branded apparel, clearly designed to compete with Nike’s officially licensed world cup products.
According to one Canada Soccer source that spoke to TSN, these attacks are a torpedo below the waterline for the organization. The insider said “It’s tragic. We are strangling ourselves,” Sponsors are paying millions for deals to align with Canada Soccer and are being told they can’t use the most marketable players in their ads. There’s a complete breakdown in our partner and sponsor ecosystem … While no one is walking away yet, no one is happy about this, either.”
With the World Cup just around the corner it remains to be seen if these disputes can be resolved in time for the team’s performance in Qatar or if the off field issue will mar the nation’s return to the world’s biggest sporting stage.