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.

 

 

 

Staff Writer
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How the NPL can learn off the USL’s content deal with Footballco

The United Soccer League (USL) has launched a strategic content partnership with Footballco, a football media company, being designated as an “Official Content Partner of the USL.”

The company will showcase the league, which is the football pyramid separate to the franchised MLS in the US, through existing fan and player-led video content formats, original creatives, features and news.

Goal and Mundial will focus on the men’s divisions, while Indivisa will work on the soon-to-be-launched USL Super League and USL W League with a more lifestyle and community-led approach to its content.

Footballco is strategically aiming to expand in the US, with the next Men’s World Cup and Olympics taking place there, and a bid for the next Women’s World Cup possibly adding that to the mix.

USL Chief Marketing Officer Greg Lalas discussed the importance of fast-tracking the USL’s growth with the sport becoming more popular.

“The USL is the heartbeat of American soccer, and we are thrilled to partner with Footballco to help bring the story of our leagues and our clubs to new fans around the world,” Lalas explained in a USL released statement.

“Brands like Goal, Mundial, and Indivisa are massively influential in the global soccer community, and as we look to extend our reach both domestically and internationally, we were excited about the opportunity Footballco presents.

“Likewise, we look forward to supporting Footballco’s strategic expansion in the U.S. This really is a match made in soccer heaven.”

Jason Wagenheim, Footballco’s CEO, North America discussed the potential this deal has for both companies.

“The USL is among the most exciting soccer leagues in the United States. As we expand our U.S. footprint, we look forward to connecting at an entirely new level with the clubs, players and fans at the heart of the USL,” Wagenheim added in a statement.

“Our reporting goes beyond just news and scores to cover the intersection of soccer and lifestyle, and there’s a huge opportunity to put the USL at the centre of that storytelling – something we know our audience craves.”

There are a lot of similarities between the NPL and USL in terms of its place in the football pyramid of its respective country and attendance numbers, and whilst the funding is different, it begs the question, should the standard of NPL content be higher from the state federations and clubs?

NPL1 matches are currently being streamed on YouTube under the NPL.TV channel, with every game live and with commentary. There have been known issues in recent years with NPL.TV streaming on the now administrated Cluch TV and the absence of live games since had affected the pyramid.

After a return to YouTube in 2024, it’s good to see a healthy audience watching games live on a big platform but fan and club driven content is still so scarce.

Akin to the partnership between USL and Footballco, Australia’s state federations need to do more with website and social media content. Among all of the divisions in each state, there is plenty of opportunity for behind-the-scenes access, stadium news and promotion of big matches including derbies to draw interest to YouTube live streams.

The forward-thinking approach of the USL has provided the NPL with a good blueprint to expand the lower leagues and Australian Football pyramid.

It’s simple, providing the vast array of NPL fans with league-focused social media content on a popular social media channel like the state federation accounts and actively promote any signings, big club news or upcoming matches that fans could attend or watch on NPL.TV.

A lot of these suggestions aren’t particularly out of budget for the NPL, but rather are more of an effort-driven focus that can have a big impact on attendance, viewership and publicity.

FIFA+ delivering valuable exposure for Oceania football

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) is partnering with FIFA’s football streaming platform, FIFA+, to broadcast its international and club competitions for two years.

The deal signifies a major win for the commercialisation and promotion of Oceanian football globally.

FIFA+ is a mobile and desktop application that provides subscribers with live streaming of various FIFA competitions, magazine shows, documentary films, and archived matches from previous tournaments.

The application will televise all major OFC competitions, such as the OFC Champions League (Men’s, women’s and youth), futsal and beach soccer competitions, and the men’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

The World Cup qualifying campaign takes on greater importance this year, as for the first time ever, OFC nations will battle for one automatic spot at the 2026 Men’s FIFA World Cup.

It represents an important moment for Oceanian football, and while there is global scepticism about FIFA’s move to a 48-team men’s World Cup, it is the smaller nations like those in Oceania who will benefit greatly.

Adding OFC’s collaboration with FIFA+ to the mix only incentivises players and coaches further, providing them a platform to build their careers and future pathways.

“This partnership with FIFA+ marks a new era for Oceania football. It’s a monumental step towards realising our dreams and showcasing the talents of our region to a global audience,” OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said via press release.

“We are excited about the opportunities this collaboration unlocks and the new horizons it opens for our players, teams, and fans.”

The increased coverage will be crucial to OFC’s commercial endeavours and future sustainability as an organisation. General Secretary Castillo paid tribute to the efforts of OFC members to secure this deal.

“In the last five years, OFC has gone to great lengths to grow football coverage across the Pacific and provide quality broadcast production standards to all fans,” he added via media release.

“As a testament to these efforts, our social media following has increased by 110% and live streaming views by 200% since 2019. We have rallied media rights in the broadcast space and expanded our distribution from four regional TV broadcasters to 26.”

“We have also expanded commercially through selling our live streaming, media and data rights for the next two years – 2024 and 2025; this is a major step forward for us in the commercial space.”

Below is the full list of competitions to be shown live and free on FIFA+ in 2024:

OFC Women’s Champions League – Solomon Islands | 10-23 March

OFC Men’s Nations Cup – Qualifying – Tonga | 20-26 March

OFC U-19 Men’s Championship – Qualifying – Vanuatu | 9-15 April

OFC U-16 Men’s Championship – Qualifying – Tonga | 13-19 April

OFC Futsal Men’s Champions League – New Caledonia | 23-28 April

OFC Men’s Champions League – Tahiti | 11-24 May

OFC U-16 Women’s Championship – Qualifying – New Zealand | 14-20 June

OFC Men’s Nations Cup – Vanuatu | 15-30 June

OFC U-19 Men’s Championship – Samoa | 7-20 July

OFC U-16 Men’s Championship – Tahiti | 28 July-10 August

OFC Futsal Women’s Nations Cup – Solomon Islands | 18-24 August

FIFA World Cup 2026™ – Oceania Qualifiers MD 1 & 2 – Samoa | 2-10 September

OFC U-16 Women’s Championship – Fiji | 8-21 September

FIFA World Cup 2026™ – Oceania Qualifiers MD 3 – New Zealand & Vanuatu | 7-15 October

OFC Beach Soccer Men’s Nations Cup – Solomon Islands | 20-26 October

FIFA World Cup 2026™ – Oceania Qualifiers MD 4 & 5 – New Zealand & Papua New Guinea | 11-19 November

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