Lacrosse players’ union says CLA call for university players for Worlds replacement team is ‘desperate’

Click to play video: 'Canadian Lacrosse Association threatens to use replacement players at world championships' Canadian Lacrosse Association threatens to use replacement players at world championships
Global News investigated the on-going labour dispute between the Canadian Lacrosse Association and its national players; the current senior men's team is in jeopardy of being sidelined for the world lacrosse championship. Now, the CLA has broken off talks, in what the Players' Association is calling “brazen union-busting” in an attempt to sign athletes for this summer's tournament. Megan Robinson reports – May 4, 2018

Controversy continues in the Canadian lacrosse world amid the on-going labour dispute between Canadian national lacrosse players and the sport’s governing body.

As Global News first reported in April, the National Lacrosse Team Players Association (NLTPA) is trying to negotiate a four-year deal for all five national teams with the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA). Without a deal, the NLTPA says the Senior Men’s Field Team will not defend it’s 2014 title at the World Lacrosse Championship in Israel this July.

READ MORE: Long-simmering dispute could keep Canada out of World Lacrosse Championship for 1st time since 1967

Now, with the tournament less than two months away, the Canadian Lacrosse Association has contacted university lacrosse programs in hopes of fielding a team outside the NLTPA.

In an email obtained by Global News on Tuesday, the CLA’s director of high performance and international relations, Doug Luey, contacted over a dozen members of the Canada University Field Lacrosse Association (CUFLA).

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“I am reaching out to you today to gauge your interest in coaching and selecting a team of CUFLA players to represent Canada in Israel from July 9-22. We have 10 players from the second tier of applicants that have indicated they would be willing to play.”

In an email response to Global News, Luey confirmed his contact with members of the CUFLA.

“It is imperative that Canada sends a team to the World Championship in 2018 and the CLA has every intention of sending a team.”

As for the 10 players from the second tier of applicants willing to play for Canada, Luey says they have shown interest in being part of the team but have not been asked to commit.

“It would be unfair to those players while we continue to reach some common ground with the 34 players initially selected to represent Canada,” Luey said.

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In an official statement, the CUFLA said it will not be involved in the 2018 FIL World Championships or discuss the situation between the CLA and NLTPA.

“We hope that the CLA and NLTPA are able to find common ground so that Canada’s best players can go to Israel to defend the gold medal,” the CUFLA said.

Upon request from Global News, the CUFLA declined to comment further.

After breaking off negotiations, the CLA began contacting replacement players outside the NLTPA last week trying to assemble a backup roster for the Worlds.

READ MORE: Canada missing lacrosse world championships closer to reality as replacement players stand by union

The CLA offered to cover all costs and insurance for replacement players, with training camp beginning July 6-8 in Ontario before the worlds in Netanya, Israel, which are scheduled to begin July 12.

Drake Porter, a goalie from Aurora, Ont. playing at Syracuse University, declined a spot on Team Canada for the world championships.

“I, and presumably many other players who received this invitation, do not want to undermine the goals of the NLTPA members during this time who are fighting for the rights of future national team players as well as a better CLA,” Porter said in a statement.

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NLTPA lawyer Richard Furlong told Global News that if this were the corporate world, the people making these decisions and miscalculations would be fired.

“The CLA is desperate, it has painted itself into a losing corner and it has badly misjudged player solidarity,” he said.

“Many players have contacted NLTPA personnel to state they will never side with the CLA under these conditions.”

Luey told Global News there are no formal talks currently scheduled with the NLTPA.

In an email on Monday to the CLA’s executive director, Jane Clapham, Furlong requested both sides meet in good faith to reach a deal.

“To put it charitably, time is short, the stakes are high and the players deserve the CLA’s unbridled cooperation.”

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