CLA’s top negotiator resigns amid lacrosse labour dispute ahead of World Championships

Geoff Snider carries the flag for Team Canada at the 2015 World Lacrosse Championships.
Geoff Snider carries the flag for Team Canada at the 2015 World Lacrosse Championships. Gilda Haskell Rottman/GettyImages

With the World Lacrosse Championships less than two months away and still no contract agreement between national lacrosse players and the sport’s governing body, the Canadian Lacrosse Association (CLA)’s top negotiator has resigned.

Doug Luey confirmed to Global News Saturday that he has stepped down as the CLA’s director of high performance and international relations.

“I don’t think that the CLA board and the National Lacrosse Team Players’ Association (NLTPA) are close enough to reaching an agreement with time running out and I feel that someone else might be better suited to bridge the gap,” said Luey.

The news of his resignation comes less than a day after the NLTPA said Luey “reneged” on an agreement to resume negotiations next week.

But Luey tells Global News he did not agree to meet with the NLTPA at the times they proposed, as the CLA is holding its semi-annual meeting in Halifax next week.

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“I think the NLTPA representation either fail to understand or neglect to understand how a national sports organization operates,” said Luey.

READ MORE: Minister of sport ‘monitoring’ lacrosse dispute threatening Canada’s attendance at World Championships

The CLA previously broke off communication with the NLTPA, which is seeking a four-year deal for all five national teams. The players said they are looking for better health insurance, removal of participation fees and the CLA to take steps to re-establish its status as a charity with the Canada Revenue Agency.

The 34 players selected for the senior men’s field team have refused to defend its 2014 FIL world title in Netanya, Israel this July without an agreement for all teams.

Luey previously confirmed to Global News he contacted “second tier” athletes and Canadian university lacrosse programs in hopes of assembling a replacement team for the world championships.

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

NLTPA lawyer, Richard Furlong, tells Global News Luey’s resignation is a “major development.”

“The real question going forward is whether the CLA board is going to fill this director of high performance position with some political toadie, or whether the board will do the right thing and fill the position based on experience and merit,” Furlong said.

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“It does not change our position,” said Furlong. “National team players must be treated with respect and dignity.”

Luey said it’s “too soon” to consider who will replace him on the CLA board or who will negotiate with the NLTPA.

The world championships are scheduled to begin July 12 in Israel, and Luey said “it’s still possible” for the CLA to get a deal done with the national teams before the tournament.

“I think that the onus is on the so-called management group of the players to come to grips with reality.”

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

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