Women’s World Cup 2023: Australia criticise gender pay disparity and question bargaining rights

Australia’s squad have criticised the gender disparity in World Cup prize money and the fact some nations do not have collective bargaining rights.

All 23 Matildas players featured in a video posted by the Australian professional players union (PFA) three days before the tournament begins.

The squad also called for all of the players in Australia’s A-League Women to be fully professional.

Australia are co-hosting the Women’s World Cup with New Zealand.

“736 footballers have the honour of representing their countries on the biggest stage this tournament,” said Australia and Everton midfielder Clare Wheeler in the video.

Western Sydney Wanderers’ Clare Hunt added: “Yet many are still denied the basic right to organise and collectively bargain.”

Brann midfielder Tameka Yallop said: “Collective bargaining has allowed us to ensure we now get the same conditions as the Socceroos, with one exception: Fifa will still only offer women one-quarter as much prize money as men for the same achievement.”

The total prize pot for the Women’s World Cup, which starts on Thursday, is $110m (£84.1m), a 300% increase from the 2019 tournament, but significantly lower than the $440m (£336.4m) pot for the men in Qatar last year.

The A-League’s minimum wage for players increased from $16,344 (£8,509) to $20,608 (£10,730) in the 2022-23 season and is set to rise again in the 2023-24 campaign to $25,000 (£13,011).

The league includes 12 teams with a regular season from November to April. The top four teams then play in semi-finals then a final to determine the champions.

Sydney FC’s Cortnee Vine added in the video: “Our sisters in the A-League are still pushing to make football a full-time career, so they don’t have to work part-time jobs like we had to.”

The BBC has approached the A-League for comment.

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Football Australia CEO James Johnson said of the video’s release: “We were aware of the video going out. [But] we weren’t concerned as Football Australia at all because we know that our program is world leading and we know the PFA and the players agree with that as well.

“Fifa-wise, [the increase in money] doesn’t get to where I think we are in Australia, but it’s improved, there’s room for improvement.”

Speaking at the Fifa Congress in March, Fifa president Gianni Infantino said: “Our ambition is to have equality in payments for the 2026 men’s and 2027 women’s World Cup. This is the objective that we set to ourselves. Fifa is stepping up with actions, not just with words.”

Football’s governing body have also said its “ultimate aspiration” is for equal prize money and “we are on that journey”.

Equal pay has been established in cricket, with the International Cricket Council announcing the milestone on 13 July.

The Matildas exercised their collective bargaining rights in an agreement in 2019 which gave them the same minimum percentage of tournament prize money as the nation’s men’s team.

This came after the women’s team took strike action in 2015 for better pay.

Australia are not the only team to speak out on equal pay, with England in a bonus dispute with the Football Association.

The governing body has reportedly said it will not pay the Lionesses performance-based bonuses, with England defender Lucy Bronze calling the situation “frustrating”.

The Matildas’ video echoed the Karen Carney report, with the former England international saying the women’s game could be a “billion pound industry”.

Carney added that professionalising the game and raising standards is the “biggest issue” in the sport.

‘Ambassadors for teams without a voice’ – analysis

Katie Silver, BBC business reporter

This World Cup feels like a watershed moment in the fight for equal pay in women’s football globally.

From Nigeria to the UK, South Africa and Canada, there have been stand-offs between multiple teams and their football associations. The fights range from bonuses to basic equal pay. Some teams have even been threatening to boycott matches, take their football associations to their national parliaments – or even not get on the plane.

It is this wave of momentum that the Matildas’ are building on with this video. Having won one of the most historic battles back in 2019 – when they were granted a collective bargaining agreement – the team see themselves as ambassadors who must vouch for teams without a voice.

“This Women’s World Cup is another real opportunity to be able to talk about these bigger things, including equal pay,” football analyst Sam Lewis told the BBC.

“It’s still something that not just women footballers are striving for. It’s what women everywhere are striving for. “

One of the teams with a seemingly long way to go towards pay equality is Vietnam, who will take on the United States on Saturday in Auckland.

Former national star Nguyen Thị Minh Nguyet said one male player can make the salary of more than 20 female players combined while some players have to sell goods online to make ends meet.

A major issue remaining is the discrepancy in the prize pot. Two billion people around the world are expected to tune in to watch this World Cup yet the prize money for women is a quarter of the men’s.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has said he wants to see this levelled by the next World Cup.


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