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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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Host cities and stadiums for FIFA Women’s World Cup revealed

Details for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 have been confirmed, with nine host cities and 10 stadiums set to host matches for the tournament.

Details for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 have been confirmed, with nine host cities and 10 stadiums set to host matches for the tournament.

Australia and New Zealand will welcome the world’s best female players in just over two years’ time, which will prove to be an exciting opportunity for both nations – being the first co-hosted FIFA Women’s World Cup and the inaugural tournament to feature 32 teams.

The announcement of the following host cities and stadiums has seen six representatives from Australia and four from New Zealand:

  • Adelaide – Hindmarsh Stadium
  • Auckland / Tāmaki Makaurau – Eden Park
  • Brisbane – Brisbane Stadium
  • Dunedin / Ōtepoti – Dunedin Stadium
  • Hamilton / Kirikiriroa – Waikato Stadium
  • Melbourne – Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
  • Perth – Perth Rectangular Stadium
  • Sydney – Stadium Australia and Sydney Football Stadium
  • Wellington /  Te Whanganui-a-Tara  – Wellington Stadium

While the exact fixtures are still to be determined, we do know that Eden Park in Auckland has been selected for the opening FIFA Women’s World Cup match, with Stadium Australia in Sydney the destination for the Final.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Football Australia Chairman Chris Nikou was proud to see the latest progress leading into the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“This is an important day for the sport because now the hard work goes to the next level – it’s a watershed moment,” he said.

“The Women’s World Cup is a tournament like no other – not since the Sydney Olympics with the attention of the world.

“[We’ve seen] an increase in gross domestic product of $320 billion, over one million spectators & audience, 400,000 more women & girls playing our sport – as we work with our member federations on equality of participation by 2027.

“[There’s also] 6,000 upskilled people, 3,000 new jobs and 16,000 Indigenous community contacts internationally.”

Westfield Matilda and Melbourne City W-League player Jenna McCormick also shared her excitement for the landmark tournament.

“To have [the Women’s World Cup] in Melbourne as the sporting capital of Australia is really awesome,” she said.

“I know with this unique sporting opportunity that the whole city will certainly get around the event and I’m really excited to see the response from the community.

“[I’m looking forward to] having family, friends and the football world come out and support us in what will be a once in a lifetime tournament here in Australia and New Zealand.”

Today’s announcement also drew elation from member federations Football NSW and Football Queensland, as the two states will be key components for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge:

“The Football NSW community welcomes FIFA’s announcement that Sydney has been selected as one of the cities that will host 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup matches. We are ecstatic that Stadium Australia will host the final.

“Female football is the fastest growing area of our sport, and today’s announcement will undoubtedly turbo charge further growth and boost the popularity of the sport.”

Football Queensland President James Richardson:

“It is fantastic news for our entire football community that the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is coming to Queensland.

“This is the biggest women’s sporting in the world. In the Women and Girls Strategy released last month, we highlighted the tournament’s potential to deliver immense benefits for all Queenslanders, particularly women and girls.”

The host cities and stadium selection was finalised after a rigorous eight-month process conducted by FIFA, together with the two host associations. It involved a series of virtual workshops and an assessment of infrastructure and facilities.

Sky Sports to broadcast Women’s Super League from 2021/22 Season

Sam Kerr WSL

Sky Sports have announced their agreement to show a minimum of 35 Women’s Super League games live and exclusive on their platform for the upcoming 2021/22 season.

Beginning in September 2021, the deal will cover a total of three seasons and will be included as a part of Sky Sports’ flagship offerings.

As one of the fastest growing football leagues around the world, with plenty of famous names and teams among its litany of talent, the Women’s Super League boasts a competitive and entertaining product for football fans to enjoy.

The decision to broadcast the Women’s Super League is a testament to Sky Sports’ commitment to growing the women’s game.

Rob Webster, Managing Director of Sky Sports, was enthusiastic about the opportunity to help grow women’s football not just in England, but across the world

“We are delighted to add the Barclays FA Women’s Super League to our expanding football portfolio. Our goal is to bring our customers more of what they love, and we are certain the WSL will be a success with our football-hungry viewers.” He said.

“We look forward to working with The FA and building a close partnership that helps grow the women’s game now and for future generations. With the addition of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, Sky Sports truly is the home of football.

“This is a multi-million-pound commitment from Sky that is going to help push the women’s game on even further and support our ambition of having the best professional women’s sports league in the world.

“Sky’s vision for women’s football is very much aligned with our own, and that was made clear during the tender process where they outlined some very exciting plans for showcasing the Barclays Women’s Super League. We are really looking forward to working with them.”

Sky Sports will undergo an extensive recruitment process between now and September in order to assemble the strongest production team possible on and off-screen.

Furthermore, in an effort to align with their quality delivery of other leagues, Women’s Super League matches will receive the full Sky Sports treatment. This will include lengthy build-ups, reactions, discussions, analysis and daily news regarding the competition across Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ digital platforms.

FA CEO James Johnson opens up on difficulties in the game and opportunities for the future

Speaking at Football Victoria’s Community in Business event on Friday, Football Australia CEO James Johnson reflected on his first 14 months in the top job of the sport, detailing the difficulties the organisation faced in 2020 and the opportunities it has in the coming years.

“I’d like to share with you what I walked into in January 2020,” Johnson told the audience in Melbourne.

“I walked into Football Australia and what I understood from the off was that the organisation had really lost a sense of unity. I believe the organisation had lost its connection with the community.”

Johnson criticised the focus of the governing body’s financial model, believing it was not looking after the best interests of the game overall.

“The business model was heavily centred on the A-League,” he said.

“That was what decision making evolved around, while other parts of the game, in my opinion, were neglected. The business model was disconnected, fractured and was inefficient. It was inefficient because of the duplication of administration. It wasn’t set up to foster growth for a thriving football ecosystem.

“The model denied the most significant part of our game, our identity, our community, our people, our stories, our diverse and multicultural base and our great national teams.

“In place of this identity, we’ve allowed a narrative to proliferate over the past 10-15 years that is divided, politicised, old soccer against new football, but this is not what our game is.”

Football Australia CEO James Johnson

The former Brisbane Strikers player admits that the game is far from perfect in this country and needs to address a range of issues.

“We have some really serious challenges ahead of us,” he said.

“We don’t own enough facilities for our growing base, we have too many players, we are turning children and families away from our code because we don’t have enough infrastructure around the country. This is a real issue.

“The performance gap that we released in 2020 tells us that the age group that plays the most minutes in our elite men’s competition (the A-League) is the age of 32. We are not giving enough opportunities for our players under 23. We also have challenges with our football pyramid, we must reconnect our pyramid so we can unleash this potential of an ecosystem.”

Since Johnson was appointed as CEO early last year, the governing body has shifted their business model allowing them to deliver strategic priorities and focus on initiatives such as: the implementation of the domestic match calendar, the proposed introduction of a domestic transfer system, a half slot to the ACL for the FFA Cup winner and more. Johnson believes factors such as these are vital to reconnecting Australian football’s national pyramid.

In his speech at the Community in Business event, the former senior executive at the AFC, FIFA and the City Football Group also strongly emphasised the importance of recognising the game’s history properly, something the game has continued to neglect in previous years.

“We have a rich history and it must be celebrated,” he said.

“There are moments in our game, that not only shaped the game, but they shaped the way that our country is. In 1974, we sent our first men’s team to the World Cup led by Rale, in 1993 Maradona came here, in 1997 Iran broke our hearts, in 2005 a famous penalty got us to our first World Cup in many decades and in 2020 we won the rights to host the Women’s World Cup.

“Our game is full of these moments and I think if you all think about those moments, people will remember where they were when they occurred. We forget that our clubs in this country predated federation. We forget that football was the first sport in Australia to have a national competition in the 70’s. We forget the first cup competition in this country was in the 60’s, the Australia Cup.

“We forget that women played football in this country as early as 1909. Nearly 42 years ago, our very first Matildas stepped out onto Seymour Shaw Park for the first Matildas match. Now, we are only a few years away from the biggest sporting event for women in the world coming to our shores.

“We forget that 99 years ago our Socceroos played their first match against New Zealand. We are one year away from 100 years.

“We forget the role that football played in the lives of indigenous children, like John Moriarty, Jade North and Kyah Simon.

“We forget that our national competitions have always been the hallmark of our game. The NSL for many, many years. Our history provides us with platforms to move forward to and to launch a bold, exciting future for our sport.”

Johnson addresses the audience at Football Victoria’s CIB event

Johnson sees the Women’s World Cup in 2023 on home soil as the perfect avenue to establish a strong future for the game.

“We are focused on creating that link between our national teams, in particular the Matildas and our community,” he said.

“Our base of 2 million participants is great, but only 22% per cent of our base are women and girls. There is a direct link between the importance and relevance of national teams and the base of community. With our national teams starting up again, you will see over the next 3 years (particularly with the Women’s World Cup) that our base will grow further and it will grow well.

Our ‘Legacy 23’ framework is an ambitious plan to maximise the opportunities that the legacy of the Women’s World Cup (WWC) will provide us. Legacy is not something that starts after the WWC, it started last month. We’ve got to try as best as possible to ensure the WWC has a long-lasting legacy, similar to what happened with the Sydney Olympics in 2000.”

The FA CEO concluded by calling on every single stakeholder to be open to change, including the governing body itself, and push forward to make the sport the best it can be.

“If we are to reach the potential of our game, each and every one of us, every stakeholder, Football Australia, Member Federations, clubs, leagues, our community need to be open to change,” he said.

“Change and innovation are the commodities that we must deal with in 2021. I’m under no illusions that Football Australia must continue to earn the trust and confidence back from our stakeholders and community. To do this, we need deeds not just words.

“Let’s seize this opportunity and put our best foot forward.”

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