MELBOURNE, Australia –
Carla Qualtrough, recently named sports minister in Canada, voiced her support for the national team’s fight for equal pay and support during a visit to a training camp in Melbourne before its make-or-break Women’s World Cup match Monday against Australia.
“You’re never going to hear me say anything but ‘pay equity equals pay for work of equal value,”‘ Qualtrough said. “Our women deserve equal opportunities as our men, and we’re gonna make sure they have it.”
Canada must avoid a loss to co-host Australia in the last group-stage game to guarantee it advances to the Women’s World Cup knockout round.
The visit by Qualtrough, who took up her post Wednesday, follows the team releasing a social media statement Friday announcing an interim agreement reached with Canada Soccer. The deal covers the players’ compensation for 2023, including Women’s World Cup prize money.
“The women are desperate to have equal treatment,” Qualtrough said. “I’m confident that we’re going to get there, but we all have to keep going in this.”
The Olympic champions have been trying to negotiate an equal pay agreement for more than a year. Their statement expressed “disappointment” with the interim deal.
“It was kind of nice to hear a message from home about some of the inspiration we’re providing,” Canada midfielder Jessie Fleming said of Qualtrough’s visit.
Qualtrough said the interim agreement was a “very good first step” but added she wanted to be hesitant in her answer because of ongoing discussions between Canada Soccer and the players.
Qualtrough, a former Paralympic swimmer, said she plans to meet with Canada Soccer officials and “really dig in on some of the issues (she’s) been watching unfold from the sidelines.”
“I’m behind the women 110 per cent,” she said.
Savannah Hernandez is a student at the University of Georgia’s Carmical Sports Media Institute
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