Australia’s Women Footballers Get Equal Pay

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Nov 6, 2019

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Australian footballer Tameka Butt, second from left, celebrates with fellow Matildas after scoring a goal against the U.S. side during a Tournament of Nations match in July 2017. (Image Credit: AP/Ted S. Warren)

The Australian women’s football team has reached an agreement with Football Federation Australia that will see the Matildas, as the squad is called, receiving equal pay and entitlements as the men’s side, the Socceroos.

Australia is the fifth country to pay men and women footballers equally, joining Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

The Professional Footballers Australia, the union that advocates for Australian footballer players regardless of gender, called the deal “a commitment that is blind to gender,” reports the BBC.

Under the agreement, Australia’s women footballers will net an equal percentage of commercial revenue and will receive salaries equal to their male peers, reports the BBC. The salary cap for the country’s top women’s players has doubled on what it was before to meet the ceiling for top men’s players. The women’s side now also has access to identical training, resources, and perks, such as traveling business class, as the men’s side. Finally, men and women footballers will both receive 40% of tournament prize money.


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This last concession is a sticking point for some critics, who say it leaves a loophole for the men’s side to take home more money in total, even as they receive the same salary as the women. Men’s tournament prize money is exponentially higher. For instance, in 2018, the men’s side won US$ 5.5 million simply for qualifying for the World Cup, reports the AP; once there, the Socceroos won zero games. A year later, the women’s side made it to the knock-out stages of the World Cup but received only US$ 700,000 in prize money for making it into the top 16 teams.

Still, the agreement is seen as a stepping stone victory in a larger movement toward equal pay for female athletes, especially footballers, that received a spotlight during the 2019 World Cup earlier this year as its winner, Team U.S.A., was fighting a legal battle for equal pay at home throughout the tournament. Movements for equal pay for women’s football are afoot Ireland, Denmark, Nigeria, and Spain as well, reports The Guardian.

India, however, lags far behind. The Indian Women’s League, or the IWL, on the other hand, has not historically paid its professional football players at all, let alone equal to men’s teams; this year, only some teams have started paying their players a small stipend, but not a real salary. Women’s players must maintain one or more jobs on the side to support themselves, taking away from training time and making life precarious.

“A player can only perform if they are given regular support. We are not given it and we are still able to produce good performances regardless,” Tanvie Hans, a player for the IWL’s Bangalore United FC, told The Swaddle earlier. Hans has previously played in the English Premier League, where infrastructure was better, but women players still had to maintain full-time side jobs. “If people would actually support us, can you imagine where women’s football would reach?”

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Written By Liesl Goecker

Liesl Goecker is The Swaddle’s managing editor and has been living and writing in Mumbai since 2010. She is passionate about women’s rights, everyone’s health, and caffeine.

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