Words by: Samuel Herriman
In what should come as a surprise to no-one, it has been revealed that the Australian women’s national soccer team – commonly known as the Matildas – are earning just a tiny fraction of what their male equivalents earn for the same job.
The announcement comes after the Matildas’ 1-0 victory in the Round of 16 of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup over football heavyweights Brazil last Monday, which secured their place in a third consecutive quarterfinal appearance. The win marks the most successful run for any Australian senior football team at a FIFA World Cup in terms of games won, with an expanded pool of 24 nations competing for the women’s trophy in 2015.
The players were rewarded for their efforts on Monday with a $600 pay packet. The Socceroos would be earning $8,500 for the same game.
While a small disparity would be probably be expected considering the difference in the current levels of popularity between the men’s and women’s game, the level of inequality is staggering. Should the Matildas reach the final of the tournament their total earnings through match fees would be $5,600, a whole $900 less than a single match fee for if –say – the Socceroos played a random exhibition game in Equatorial Guinea.
The fee structure is even more remarkable when considering that the majority of the Matildas are only semi-professional athletes, and do not enjoy the same sponsorship and commercial deals as many of their male counterparts.
A spokesperson for the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) has noted that the fees for the Matildas must be increased to ‘fair, equitable and attractive’ levels in order to influence top level talent to stay with the game in the future.
Women’s sport is rapidly gaining popularity and legitimacy throughout the globe, with netball, golf, cricket and hockey all receiving significant coverage. EA Sports has even announced that women’s teams will be playable in FIFA16, the next release of their popular ‘FIFA’ gaming range.
Tennis still remains far and away the most popular women’s sport for a number of reasons, but perhaps most significantly it is due to the parity of pay for men and women offered by the grand slams.
Such equality was integral in legitimising the sport, a struggle that many other women’s sports still face.
The Matildas recently faced Japan in the quarterfinals at 4:00am Perth time on June 28th.