(Ottawa) Canada Soccer is working to “modernize” the controversial agreement with the Canadian Soccer Business, which is not yielding the expected results, Earl Cochrane, secretary general of the sports federation, told a parliamentary committee.

The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage continued its study of the situation at Canada Soccer on Monday after hearing, about two weeks ago, the testimonies of four players from the women’s national team who came to denounce the salary gap between them and their male teammates. .

The session began on a false note, while the elected officials expressed their dissatisfaction with the absence of the resigning president Nick Bontis, who was to appear. The latter was not at the table for personal reasons, according to his lawyers; elected officials insisted that he be convened again.

It was Earl Cochrane, General Secretary of Canada Soccer, who kicked off the proceedings with the opening statement. He began by touting the proposed collective agreement unveiled just before captain Christine Sinclair and three of her teammates appeared in committee.

“We strongly believe the offer is fair and just. Under this agreement, the women’s team would be the second highest paid national team within FIFA teams, behind the United States.

Then, a mea culpa. “Recently, Canada Soccer made funding decisions for women’s team operations which we believe would have minimal impact. We were wrong,” the executive argued as he read from prepared notes, acknowledging that “the impact was negative for the women’s team.”

Once this opening presentation was completed, the elected officials then changed channels, following the leaders on the pact concluded in March 2018 between Canada Soccer and the firm Canadian Soccer Business (CSB). This “deserves to be revised”, agreed Paul-Claude Bérubé, of the board of directors of the federation.

The agreement giving up all commercial and television rights to the women’s and men’s national teams, among others, was approved “for a very good reason”, namely to reap “three million in revenue per year and avoid spending $1 million per year to televise our games,” he said.

“We needed this money, and we concluded that receiving this amount of money in the long term would secure our operations”, continued Mr. Bérubé, while noting that the termination of the agreement is not in the cardboards.

Both men and women had demanded the opening of the accounting books of the federation in the wake of the conclusion of this pact, which had notably been endorsed by Nick Bontis – the very one that the elected members of the committee want to hear testify.

He was talked about despite his absence: Liberal MP Lisa Hepfner brought up an anecdote Christine Sinclair told to the committee. “I have never felt more insulted” than leaving a meeting where Nick Bontis compared his demands to “bitching”, exposed the prolific number 12.

“Christine Sinclair is a legend in our sport. She represents the best of who we are, and the best of women’s sport on the international stage. What was said […] does not represent the way we see her and the esteem we have for her”, denounced Earl Cochrane.

As if to test Canada Soccer’s image of women in sport, Liberal Anthony Housefather quizzed his representatives on the selection of Brazilian model Adriana Lima, who is associated with lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret, as ambassador of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“Would Canada Soccer consider a Calvin Klein underwear model to be a suitable ambassador for a Men’s World Cup? She has never played soccer. Why would we choose her? Isn’t that demeaning to the players that Canada and others send to the field? “, he launched.

“It’s the first time I’ve heard of this, but from what I’m being described, I think the days of presenting women’s sport in this way should be over, and long gone,” he said. replied Earl Cochrane.