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Equal pay in football is one thing, but fair prize money is much harder to achieve

After the stunning success of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, continued calls for equal pay rang loudly across the globe.

The tournament took the women’s game into the stratosphere. Broadcast wise, the numbers were astonishing, stadium attendance was superb and the football played impressive. The growth in women’s football at the elite level has a momentum unparalleled by any other global sport and the process of guiding the game through that growth is an important one that must be overseen astutely.

Australia’s national women’s team, the Matildas, will play a key role in the short term future of football, as one of the top ten nations in the female game. With a significant portion of the national squad now plying their trade in the FA Women’s Super League in the UK, their personal development as footballers appears limitless.

The Super League has attracted the best of the best from around the world and appears likely to become similar to the EPL in terms of the quality of play and the financial remuneration available to players.

It is that financial remuneration that has been a hot topic in recent days, with news surfacing the England’s FA have been paying the exact same amount in match fees and bonuses to its men’s and women’s teams since January 2020. The Brazilian Football Confederation has confirmed that a similar parity has been occurring since March and the ground breaking collective bargaining agreement announced in November 2019, saw Australia’s elite female players earn true equity in pay and conditions.

That agreement saw Matilda salaries increase to around A$100,000, in line with their male counterparts, whilst also increasing their share of revenue generated from national team play.

No doubt, more and more countries around the globe will follow suit in the short to medium term and by the time the world gathers in Australia and New Zealand in 2023 for the next edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, it is highly likely that true pay equality will be universally in existence for all the squads competing.

Sadly for the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) the road to financial parity has been a less than simple and uncontroversial one. A March 2019 court proceeding seeking US$100 million was tossed from the court room by a federal judge, citing the team’s original decision to reject the payment structure adopted by the men’s team and their subsequent dissatisfaction with that choice.

Taking legal action retroactively once the error of their way became clear was frowned upon by the judge, yet claims that the medical treatment and travel support offered to the squad were inadequate, will indeed see the USWNT have their day in court in the near future.

No doubt the USWNT’s situation will be resolved in due course and wages and conditions set in line with those provided for the men’s team, however the best female players in the world will still be well behind males when it comes to the potential financial windfall they can take from the game they love.

At the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the USWNT received $4 million for its victory. Each participating team was given $750,000 for playing in the group stage, with bonus funds due the further a nation progressed through the tournament. Overall, FIFA allocated $30 million to the event, a smallish figure when compared to the $400 million paid to the teams participating at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

National federations receive the funds and dole out the money as they see fit and this is where the next discussion around the reimbursement of female players will lie. Whilst the Matildas are pleased with their negotiated 30 per cent share of prize money, such an agreement does not exist for most women’s national teams.

Some might argue that if FIFA’s total investment in the Women’s World Cup was around seven per cent of the $400 million spent on the men’s tournament, then the share of prize money allocated to female participants should be at around the same rate.

However, FIFA makes little distinction between the two tournaments, claiming revenue cannot be split among all FIFA events, as broadcast and corporate arrangements are agreed to as a complete package. Thus, a discussion around the value of the women who play the game at the highest level and the share of the purse they should earn will be the next step in the path to true pay equality.

Australia has pioneered that path and will look to lead the rest of the world when it comes to ensuring that the current and future generation of Matildas is compensated fairly; not only via salaries and match payments, but also through the allocation of prize money awarded for the entertainment they provide and any success they have on the pitch.

 

 

 

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Stuart Thomas is a trusted Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on macro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions.

New standard launched for FIFA Quality Programme

'FIFA Basic’ has been launched as the lowest standard of the FIFA Quality Programme which sets industry standards for football products.

‘FIFA Basic’ has been launched as the lowest standard of the FIFA Quality Programme which sets industry standards for football products.

The FIFA Quality Programme sets standards for products such as playing surfaces, equipment and football technology.

‘FIFA Basic’ sits behind ‘FIFA Pro’ and FIFA Quality Pro’. FIFA believes that the new standard will boost football development.

The ‘FIFA Basic’ standard focuses on cost efficiency, durability and safeguarding player safety.

The ‘FIFA Quality’ standard products meet the standard for community and amateur level sport while ‘FIFA Quality Pro’ products meet the benchmarks for professional football.

FIFA’s Quality Programme Conference and Research Symposium was held for the third time recently and was centred on the presentation of the new standard. More than 400 representatives from the football industry, major leagues, and confederations and associations attended the seminar.

“The event offered an important exchange with industry representatives, the football world and the research community on global standards and new developments. Even more important was the opportunity to hear about the industry’s challenges in these challenging times and to discuss possible solutions,” FIFA Director of Football Technology & Innovation, Johannes Holzmüller said about the conference.

“The introduction of the new FIFA Basic quality category and the FIFA Innovation Programme will have a positive impact by making products more affordable and adaptable for all levels of the game.”

Other initiatives were also introduced at the seminar – a new Quality Programme for Football Goals was also presented. Guidelines for natural turf and floodlighting are being developed in this area.

The FIFA Innovation Programme was also announced, which is aimed at new football products coming onto the market.

“The FIFA Innovation Programme, which creates a transparent and uniform process through which new products must pass in order to be approved within a fixed period of time and with clearly defined objectives,” FIFA said in a media release on its website.

On the FIFA Football Technology website, the FIFA Quality Programme has information about the football products it sets standards for from footballs, pitches, VAR, goal line technlgies to futsal surfaces and products.

Time for Australian clubs to step up their TikTok game

Stadiums have been forced to adapt during the pandemic, introducing new procedures and innovations allowing fans to attend matches safely.

Video-sharing service TikTok is a global phenomenon and it’s time Australian football clubs further embraced the platform, to continue to build their digital engagement with fans.

 

In a piece earlier this year, renowned football commentator Simon Hill revealed the findings of a study conducted by Futures which claimed football is “Australia’s most digitally vibrant sport”.

What this meant, was that fans of the round ball game in Australia were more likely to engage with the sport on online platforms, than any other sport in the country.

Citing Facebook as an example in the article, Hill stated that of the 442,000 people who were following the A-League’s official page at the time, “nearly three-quarters” of them were under the age of 35.

Other impressive figures from services such as YouTube and Twitter were listed, and the A-League’s digital footprint does continue to grow, highlighting the appetite the young demographic have for online content.

However, one platform Australian clubs are not taking full advantage of is TikTok, and it seems to be a missed opportunity.

According to Roy Morgan Research, TikTok is now used by nearly 2.5 million Australians, with that number growing by more than 50% during 2020.

Over 70% of these users are under the age of 30, a figure which should be an exciting growth prospect for clubs, as it aligns with football’s core audience.

But if we examine the use of the service by A-League clubs, results across the board are underwhelming.

Most clubs in the A-League have posted content on an occasional basis on TikTok and is possibly a reason why follower numbers are quite low.

A range of clubs have under 500 followers on the platform, despite opening their accounts several months ago.

This includes Melbourne’s best supported club, Melbourne Victory, who have just under 450 followers.

When compared to AFL clubs such as St Kilda, who have over 160,000 followers, A-League clubs must simply do better to build on their metrics.

Other A-League sides have not even created an account on the service, which seems bewildering.

There are shining lights through outliers like Adelaide United, who have over 25,000 followers on the social media network.

United post content on a more consistent basis than others, whilst participating in global TikTok trends that has seen some of their videos reach around a million views.

It’s a method which is effective, yet not too complicated, for the A-League clubs sleeping at the wheel.

Although, it shouldn’t be A-League exclusive.

NPL clubs could also follow strategies of a similar pattern.

Why can’t they produce engaging short videos that builds their brand with content young fans love to consume?

I understand it may be difficult enough for everyday volunteers to control a Facebook and Instagram page for their club, let alone a TikTok page. But there are alternative options.

University students studying Media, who are younger and generally more tech savvy, are better placed to understand the current dynamic of the differing social media sites.

As they progress through their course, they want the opportunity to utilise the skills they have learnt and put them into practice.

Clubs can offer these students a platform, through initial internships, in what is a beneficial move for both sides.

As the game moves towards the implementation of a national second division and eventually promotion and relegation, an NPL club’s media profile will be increasingly important if they have the chance to play in the top tier.

Ambitious NPL clubs must continue to keep up in the social media landscape and a notable presence on TikTok should be seen as vital.

FIFA launches anti-doping programme

FIFA has launched an Executive Programme in Anti-Doping, which aims to provide analysis on the regulatory, institutional and scientific aspects to anti-doping in sport.

FIFA has launched an Executive Programme in Anti-Doping, which aims to provide analysis on the regulatory, institutional and scientific aspects to anti-doping in sport.

The programme was launched on Tuesday and the first edition of the Executive Programme in Anti-Doping will take place from February to July 2021. The programme has been launched in cooperation with the International Centre for Sports Studies.

Lawyers, doctors or sports administrators from international or national federations are eligible to participate in FIFA’s programme.

FIFA said that programme would benefit participants as it provides in-depth analysis of institutional and regulatory framework of anti-doping as well as an introduction to the scientific aspects to anti-doping.

The academic directors for the programme are Dr. Emilio Garcia Silvero, FIFA’s Chief Legal Officer and Prof. Antonio Rigozzi, who is a Partner at Geneva based law firm Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler and a Professor at the University of Neuchatel Law School.

“Since the establishment of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) back in 1999, the fight against doping in sport has evolved dramatically. The interaction between the WADA Code, Sports Governing Bodies regulations and national legislation has led a considerable complexity in this field,” FIFA said in a statement on its website.

“Handling a doping case either at the result management stage or before the judicial bodies of a national or international federation or the Court of Arbitration for Sport requires a holistic approach.

“While the FIFA Executive Programme in Anti-doping is mainly focused on the legal and institutional aspects of the anti-doping landscape, a basic approach over the most relevant scientific aspects of this complex phenomenon is also provided.”

The programme is made of three modules which focus on different aspects of anti-doping. Modules 1 and 2 will be held online while the third module takes place at the FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

Module 1 takes place between 4-7 February 2021 – this module covers areas such as the history of anti-doping, the prohibited list of substances and testing strategies and anti-doping control.

Module 2 will occur between 22-25 April 2021 and focuses on topics such as the role of laboratories and first instance hearings.

The third module at FIFA HQ will run between 1-4 July 2021, subject to international travel restrictions easing. This module explores topics such as sanctions, appeal proceedings and the future challenges of anti-doping

Tuition fees for this course have been set as $1,200 USD. The admission process is currently open and closes on 19 December. 24 participants will be selected to participate in the programme.

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