STOCKHOLM (AP) — The Swedish Ice Hockey Federation canceled the Four Nations Cup, the top annual women’s hockey tournament, in November because it can’t guarantee its players’ participation due to an ongoing pay dispute.
The federation noted the uncertainty regarding their players’ status made it difficult for the three other competing nations to make travel plans. The tournament annually features Finland, the United States and Canada. The U.S. won the last four editions of the event, beating rival Canada in each final.
Sweden’s top players are boycotting their national team because they are unhappy over pay and working conditions.
The players skipped a tournament in Finland in August because of the strike and have yet to agree a new contract with the federation.
They also formed a union and raised complaints over their previous deal, which expired in April. Players are unhappy over their compensation, while also having to fit work and family schedules around national team requirements.
Other complaints included travel conditions and schedules, the short- and long-term vision for women’s hockey in Sweden and a perceived lack of respect.
Swedish players are following in the steps of U.S. women’s national team members who were successful in landing better compensation after threatening to boycott the 2017 World Championship being held in Michigan.
In May, more than 200 of the world’s top players pledged to boycott playing in North America this season in a push to establish a women’s professional league with what they say must be a sustainable economic model. They formed a union, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association.
The Swedish players have the PWHPA’s support.
“It’s tough to see, for sure, but I think it really speaks to the fact that we are all only as strong as our weakest link,” PWHPA board member Liz Knox wrote in a text to The Associated Press. “We support them striving for better because in the end, women’s hockey as a whole will be the better for it.”
Anders Larsson, chairman of the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation, last month said the boycott is damaging the brand of the country’s hockey team and is a failure for both the federation and the Swedish team.
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