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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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28 Australian Match Officials recognised by FIFA for 2022

Football Australia has announced that 28 of Australia's Match Officials have been appointed to FIFA's Panel of International Referees.

Football Australia has announced that 28 of Australia’s Match Officials have been appointed to FIFA’s Panel of International Referees for 2022.

The list includes Referees, Assistant referees, Futsal referees, and Video Match Officials – all of whom are enabled to officiate FIFA sanctioned tournaments and fixtures.

The list includes four new Australian match officials, featuring two match referees and two assistant referees. They are Daniel Elder and Adam Kersey from the Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s competition, and assistant referees Lauren Hargrave and Kearney Robinson respectively.

With all officials becoming debutants on FIFA’s esteemed list, it serves as recognition on a worldwide scale.

Football Australian Chairman and Chair of Football Australia Referees Committee, Chris Nikou:

“Australian match officials have always been highly regarded within the global football landscape and it is pleasing to see that FIFA has continued to recognise this through the appointment of 28 Australians to the Panel of International Referees for 2022,” he said.

“Congratulations to the new additions to the panel in Daniel (Elder), Adam (Kersey), Lauren (Hargrave), and Kearney (Robinson).”

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson:

“Refereeing remains a key focus for Football Australia, and it is pleasing to see Australian Match Officials once again recognised by FIFA. We congratulate all the 2022 Panel or their opportunity to represent Australian football on the global stage,” he said.“With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ now just 11 months away and a home Women’s World Cup™ in 2023, it is an exciting time for Australian refereeing and football more broadly.”

Four other Australian match officials are also being acknowledged for their selection to officiate in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022. Referees Casey Reibelt, Lara Lee, Kate Jacewicz, and Assistant Referee Joanna Charaktis will represent Australia in India over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, seasoned Australian referees Matthew Cream and Renae Coghill called time on their international refereeing careers at the end of 2021.

The full list of Australian Match Officials selected for FIFA’s Panel of International Referees for 2022 is below:

Name

Role

FIFA International Since

Kurt AMS

Referee

2019

Jonathan BARREIRO

Referee

2019

Christopher BEATH

Referee

2011

Rebecca DURCAU

Referee

2017

Daniel ELDER

Referee

2022

Shaun EVANS

Referee

2017

Kate JACEWICZ

Referee

2011

Adam KERSEY

Referee

2022

Alexander KING

Referee

2020

Lara LEE

Referee

2019

Casey REIBELT

Referee

2014

Ashley BEECHAM

Assistant Referee

2013

Joanna CHARAKTIS

Assistant Referee

2019

Ryan GALLAGHER

Assistant Referee

2016

Owen GOLDRICK

Assistant Referee

2018

Lance GREENSHIELDS

Assistant Referee

2019

Lauren HARGRAVE

Assistant Referee

2022

Sarah HO

Assistant Referee

2004

George LAKRINDIS

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew LINDSAY

Assistant Referee

2019

Nathan MACDONALD

Assistant Referee

2012

Laura MOYA

Assistant Referee

2017

Kearney ROBINSON

Assistant Referee

2022

Anton SHCHETININ

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew BEST

Futsal Referee

2017

Jonathon MOORE

Futsal Referee

2018

Ryan SHEPHEARD

Futsal Referee

2009

Darius TURNER

Futsal Referee

2013

Note: Match Officials listed in bold are recognised as FIFA Video Match Officials (VMOs).

Why 2021 was a groundbreaking year for Australian football

Olympics

As 2021 draws to a close, it has proved to be another fantastic year of growth for the game.

With the 2023 Women’s World Cup on home soil edging closer, the tournament is one of the main driving forces behind facility funding and infrastructure in particular that will play a key role for the Matildas and visiting teams.

In a recap of 2021 highlights, Soccerscene picks out five contributors towards a groundbreaking year for Australian football.

The APL have officially been given the reigns

The long-awaited hand over of Australia’s professional leagues has provided A-League club owners with greater impetus to invest than ever before. The impact of the unbundling, which was officially confirmed at the last possible minute on December 31, 2020, is yet to be fully realised. But it has to be said that the signs thus far point to a positive future for football.

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL), the entity charged with growing the professional leagues in Australia, have already begun to endear themselves to the passionate domestic football fanbase, simply through making substantial decisions for the benefit of football in the short and long-term.

ViacomCBS

So far, the APL have delivered. A unified A-Leagues which has seen the Men’s and Women’s game united under one banner; the wholehearted support of broadcaster 10 ViacomCBS as the home of Australian football; the launch of the KEEPUP digital platform to serve as the go-to hub for all things domestic and international football; and a $100 million investment into football here from American private equity firm Silver Lake.

There is no denying that those who have sought to take the game in a positive direction are seeking to do as such through their actions, rather than their words.

Investment in National Premier Leagues infrastructure across the country

National Premier Leagues (NPL) sides across Australia placed a significant focus on the growth and investment into their infrastructure in 2021.

As of November, the upgrades to Clennett’s Lightwood Park are underway, ensuring that Kingborough Lions FC’s home ground will be given a significant opportunity to potentially host training basecamps for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

The club were recipients of a portion of the Tasmanian Government’s $10 million pledge to upgrade facilities in preparation for hosting World Cup content.

Tasmania

NPL NSW 4 side Parramatta Eagles FC were successful in securing a well-overdue upgrade to the iconic Melita Stadium. The Eagles contributed $20,000 to the upgrade and were successful in obtaining $50,000 from the Community Building Partnerships Program.

Melita Stadium is a historic venue known to all that love the world game and has been given a new lease on life thanks to the funding. Beyond the historic relevance, the arrival of the upgrade to Melita Stadium in 2021 contains with it the symbolic implication of an overriding investment into football facilities across the board.

Edgeworth Eagles’ nearly $1.5 million development has ushered the historic Northern NSW side into a new era. A quarter of a million of the investment went into floodlighting to provide adequate lighting for the club’s many programs and teams, leaving them as the only NPL side with 500 Lux on their ground.

Eagles

In addition, Victorian NPL 2 side North Sunshine Eagles saw a newly redeveloped $8.4 million facility based in Ardeer established to house their entire junior setup out of More Park from 2022.

The facility has two full size rectangular pitches, a 21x12m fully enclosed futsal court, a mini pitch (suitable for MiniRoos), four female-friendly changerooms as well as a fully accessible sports pavilion, community social room and expanded carpark.

The efforts being made by these clubs (and plenty more) must be commended, particularly in light of yet another COVID-19 impacted season that forced competitions across the country to end early.

State federations make strides to advance the game 

Exciting partnership news extended across the country, with notable deals including: Football South Australia announcing a new eight-year partnership with leading LED manufacturer One World LED & Sportal; Football West linking up with Veo Technologies to support West Australian clubs; and Capital Football beginning their new apparel partnership with Australian sports clothing manufacturer ISC.

Football Queensland have taken immense strides as a member federation this year, following the release of Future of Football 2020+. In August, FQ Members voted on 11 resolutions put forward with an overwhelming show of support for the Future of Football 2020+ reforms, the first the game has seen in 20 years.

Football West CEO James Curtis stepped down from his role with the intention of setting a precedent of leadership succession for the West Coast’s representative football federation, and perhaps for Australian football as a whole.

Football West

In a sport where in-fighting and over-politicising has undoubtedly impeded the game in the past, such movements are indicative of the changing approach to how football is governed.

The women’s game is given the focus it deserves

With the excitement of an upcoming Women’s World Cup to be co-hosted with New Zealand in 2023, opportunities have finally been presented to the women’s game to give it the attention and investment it has deserved. Such spotlight is undeniably overdue, especially considering the overwhelming presence and support of the Matildas across the Australian sporting public.

With the women’s game expected to grow in interest and participation over the next decade, female friendly amenities are essential in ensuring a safe and inviting space is facilitated for women to prepare for competition and training.

The lack of female friendly football facilities has been slowly rectified in 2021, with the likes of Nepean Football Association side, St Marys Band Rangers FC, recently seeing an upgrade to the facility at their home ground, Kevin Dwyer Fields. Fresh paint, new bench seating and most importantly lockable showers and toilets for females has been added to the existing change rooms.

The Nest

Football Australia’s announcement in August of a High Performance Coaching Initiative will look to help women’s football move beyond the well documented barriers. In an Australian football first, over 150 women coaches at various levels will partake in a comprehensive study to better understand their coaching landscape in the first phase of the Initiative.

By taking on an evidence-based approach, women coaches in football will be supported, engaged with, developed, and retained to increase the numbers in high performance.

For regional football, a NSW Government funded talent identification and youth development program was announced in January to take place over the next three years to help young girls who aspire to play for the Matildas.

The $750,000 initiative is designed for girls aged 12 to 18 years old, with funding to support the establishment of training hubs across the state and identifying talented young players will be further supported through the provision of training camps and player support scholarships.

Australian football finally has the ‘new dawn’ it’s been waiting for

Starting anew, with expansive scope available to Football Australia, the APL and the member federations to lead Australian football out of its tumultuous, and often chaotic, adolescent years, the opportunity is now here to ensure that Australian football reaches its lofty potential.

There is plenty to be excited for, particularly with a National Second Division touted for 2023 that will arguably stamp Football Australia and the APL’s commitment to uniting the game between the professional, semi-professional and grassroots tiers.

Ultimately however, Australian football needs to work to win back many fans who have become disenchanted with how the game has been run. In an interview with Soccerscene ahead of the A-Leagues season, 10 ViacomCBS Executive Producer Geoff Bullock acknowledged that the broadcasters were looking to bring a “fan-first approach to broadcasting football” in Australia. If one thing is clear about the future, Australian football must reignite the passion of the fans in this country.

References to a ‘new dawn’ for Australian football will understandably be taken with a grain of salt from the footballing public. But even the most tentative Australian football adherent would feel a greater hope and optimism for the future. It’s simply a matter of patience.

Fans

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