Women’s sport weekly wrap: Landmark pay deal for football

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    Football fever has hit Sydney and it all kicks off tomorrow when the Westfield Matildas will play Brazil in the first of a two-game international series at a sold out Pepper Stadium.

    Over 17,000 people are expected to attend the game and this will be one the biggest crowds for women’s football this country has ever seen.

    The Matildas next game will be against Brazil on Tuesday in Newcastle and reports are that this game is close to being sold out too.

    This will be the first time that the Matildas have played Brazil since the Tournament of Nations in early August where the Matildas won 6-1 so this team heads into this game not just with the home ground advantage, but also with all the momentum.

    If you thought sold-out crowds and more focus on the game was the biggest new in women’s football this week, you would be mistaken.

    On Monday a new deal was announced between the FFA and the players union, Professional Footballers Australia which will see $10,000-minimum player contracts for the tenth season of the W-league.

    This new deal has also seen an improvement to minimum medical standards, a new maternity policy, football and non-football income protection for injured players, an increase in the length of contracts with the ability for players to sign multi-year deals, access to the PFA Player Development Program and the provision of football boots and runners.

    Big deal, I hear some of you thinking. What’s $10,000 compared to what our female cricketers get paid or the women who play in the Suncorp Super Netball League?

    First of all, our sports are not in competition with each other. This is a landmark pay deal in women’s football and should be celebrated as such. Additionally, this minimum standard will, for many female football players mean their average wages will double.

    This new Collective Bargaining Agreement means that the average wage for a W-League player will be $15,500 for this season and this will rise to $17,400 per season next year. The salary cap for the competition has also increased to $300,000 to allow each of the teams participating to pay these increased wages.

    For some of our biggest names like Sam Kerr and Katrina Gorry – alongside the contracts they have when they play overseas, this could mean that they will begin to earn six-figures from playing football. Earning this much is certainly enough to consider these women professional and give them the opportunity, just like the men, to solely focus on playing football.

    This all bodes well heading into an Asia Cup and World Cup.

    The W-League season will begin in the final weekend of October, span for 14 weeks and will include 25 double-headers alongside A-League games. I hope to see you all at a couple of Canberra United and Western Sydney Wanderers Women games.

    Tameka Butt Matildas Australia Football 2017 tall

    (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

    Rugby league
    We may only be five games away from the end of the NRL season, but with a rugby league World Cup on approach there won’t be any time to stop and rest when the grand final is over on the first of October, particularly when the Jillaroos next game is just over a week away.

    This week, Australian Jillaroos coach Brad Donald named his squad ahead of the team’s first ever match against the Papua New Guinea Orchids which will take place in Port Moresby later this month.

    This game will take place as part of a triple-header which will also feature an under-16s match between a rugby league Young Achiever’s and a Papua New Guinea Select side and the annual Papua New Guinea Kumuls and Prime Minister’s XIII game.

    I would like to congratulate all the women named in the squad. There are plenty of familiar faces like Steph Hancock, Kody House, Kezie Apps and Ali Brigginshaw along with six debutants – Maddison Bennett, Lucy Lockhart, Talesha Quinn, Jessica Sergis, Sarah Walker and Med Warg.

    In particular, I want to congratulate Talesha Quinn. Talesha is in the army and moved up to Queensland a couple of years ago to pursue rugby league. Unfortunately when she got there, the competition she was looking to play in had closed down.


    (NRL Photos/Grant Trouville)

    Talesha gave other sports a go, including rugby union, but still had a hunger to play rugby league, so much so that when she heard the Cronulla Sharks would have a Nines side this year, she organised a transfer with the army back down to Sydney to pursue her rugby league dream.

    To see Talesha represent not just the Cronulla Sharks, the New South Wales Blues and now the Australian Jillaroos is extraordinary and I congratulate her on her commitment to footy and am so glad that she decided to come back to the game. I expect we will be hearing countless stories like this over the next couple of years as women’s rugby league continues to grow.

    You might have noticed that there are a couple of faces missing from the team. It’s worth noting that several Jillaroos based in New South Wales were excluded from national duties so they could play in the NSWRL’s Harvey Norman Women’s Premiership final series in Sydney happening on the same weekend.

    So if your team is out of the finals race, here’s a good excuse to tune in to rugby league next weekend. Watch this space – I’m sure broadcast arrangements will be announced shortly

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (24)

    • September 15th 2017 @ 9:44am
      Nemesis said | September 15th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      The rise of women’s sport – both at grassroots participation & general chatter has been extraordinary. We’ve always had successful female athletes in Australia, but I always sensed the media never really treated them with the same reverence & respect they give successful male athletes.

      This has now definitely changed. For sure, there’s a long way to go & there are still troglodytes in the media – and, even posers on these sports forums – who behave like neanderthals and throw around comments like: “it’s a sissy’s game”, or “played like a girl” to demean a sport, or an athlete.

      As a football fan, the Matildas are a joy.

      They’ve finally proven they’re world class athletes. Whilst fans always held them in high regard, I think they needed to prove to themselves they’re inferior to no one. And, the recent tournament in America proved that.

      Plus, they’re just simply charming people. They’re confident, but they’re not aloof. They’re cheeky, they’re respectful, they’re funny, they’re serious. Simply, they’re just delightful people to have at the top of the playing pyramid for AUS football.

      • September 15th 2017 @ 8:48pm
        LuckyEddie said | September 15th 2017 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

        You should go for a job at the ABC

    • Roar Guru

      September 15th 2017 @ 10:08am
      Rick Disnick said | September 15th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      “Big deal, I hear some of you thinking. What’s $10,000 compared to what our female cricketers get paid or the women who play in the Suncorp Super Netball League?”

      Women’s netball wages are self-sustaining; I doubt female cricket wages are.

      AFLW is the same being heavily subsidised by the men’s game.

      Does women’s football have the capacity to be self-sufficient and offer genuine sporting career paths for 1000’s of young girls? Hmmm, hard to say, especially when the A-League struggles paying decent coin to the men.

      • September 15th 2017 @ 10:21am
        Nemesis said | September 15th 2017 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        “especially when the A-League struggles paying decent coin to the men.”

        The ALeague Salary Cap is around $2.6m/year. Clubs can have a minimum of 20 players; of which 17 must be older than 20 years. 2 of the 17 players can be marquee players, whose wages fall outside the Salary Cap.

        So, potentially, the average ALeague salary for players over the age of 20 years is over $170,000. Is this “decent coin”? That’s up to each person to decide.

        By way of reference: The average wage for adult workers in Australia is around $83,000 per annum.

        • Roar Guru

          September 15th 2017 @ 3:47pm
          Rick Disnick said | September 15th 2017 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

          Many thanks again for taking interest in my opinion. You know how much I value your comments..

      • September 15th 2017 @ 1:10pm
        Waz said | September 15th 2017 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

        Rick, there’s a long way to go but for the top footballers there are also lucrative contracts to be had overseas plus of course their Socceroos payments. There’s a long way to go on getting female footballers decent salaries but this week was a good start.

        • Roar Guru

          September 15th 2017 @ 3:14pm
          Rick Disnick said | September 15th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

          This discussion goes far deeper, Waz.

          Women’s sport will always generate less revenue than the men’s equivalent. Even in tennis, where we see equal pay in the Grand Slams, there are still more individual tournaments with greater prize money due to the greater demand around the world for the men’s product (from both men and women).

          Netball is a unique product since there is no direct men’s equivalent, which is why it’s self-sustainable.

          But the real question is: why is women’s sport watched less, and consequently, women paid less? Ironically, it’s the same reason why I believe the A-League will always struggle in this country … it’s not the best.

          My wife will never watch women’s football, but she’ll quite happily watch the EPL and her beloved Arsenal. Why? … because it’s the best. I’d be surprised if Mary disagreed with that premise for a large percentage of the population.

          One solution is for the men’s elite competitions, of their respective sports, to subsidise the women’s game. This is hard for women’s football since the A-League can barely sustain itself.

          The risk vs reward to become an elite male footballer is quite high in this country, let alone for the women. The number of positions available in the A-League amount to a few hundred. Couple this with an average wage of around $170,000 and short career expectancy, the question begs: Is it really worth the effort to pursue such a career, especially if there’s an academic pathway more attractive?

          Of course there are greater opportunities overseas with greater riches, but once again, we only see a few hundred players on overseas rosters due to the greater competition. The numbers just don’t stack up, especially given the participation rates compared to other codes.

          • September 15th 2017 @ 6:17pm
            Nemesis said | September 15th 2017 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

            “My wife will never watch women’s football, but she’ll quite happily watch the EPL and her beloved Arsenal. Why? … because it’s the best.”

            If your wife thinks watching Arsenal is equivalent to “watching the best”, it’s a clear indication that her understanding of “the best” is purely subjective. But, good for her, if she’s happy to accept Arsenal as “the best”.

            The 20,000 Cologne fans who took over the Emirates today know they team aren’t the best. They’ve watched their team bobbing up & down between Bundesliga 1 & 2 for the past 20 years.

            Do they care that their team is not the best? Nope.
            Do they care their team is currently bottom of Bundesliga and, at this early stage, likely to go back down to 2nd Division? Nope

            That’s the difference between FC Koln fans, who understand the Game, and made the Emirates a vibrant place this morning, for the 1st time in it’s history. Compared to fans who say they only watch football if they “watch the best”.

            • September 16th 2017 @ 2:47am
              Geoff said | September 16th 2017 @ 2:47am | ! Report

              Nemesis missing the point by an admirable margin.

          • September 16th 2017 @ 10:56am
            jupiter53 said | September 16th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

            I presume that your wife has had to watch football other than the Premier League to decide that it is “the best”? If she has, then I could not argue with her opinion, although I would not share it.

            However I question your first sentence where you state that “women’s sport will always generate less revenue than the men’s equivalent”. Things have a way of changing with time – obviously. I could give examples but I am sure you are able to think of plenty yourself. There are some biologically determined differences between men and women, but I can’t see why revenue from sports should be fixed as a sex difference into the future.

            None of the following is directly relevant to your argument, but may go towards explaining why I can’t just agree to your “always” statement.

            If I was to go with your wife’s view then I would not have been a SFC member, because they have never played the best football on the planet. Arguably I would not have bothered watching the EPL; most likely I would have only watched the Primera Liga.

            I enjoy the contest between players, the skills involved, the way intelligence is expressed physically, the way that a well coordinated team can beat a team of better individuals, the way that psychology affects capacity to perform, the way that in an individual moment, an average player can produce a perfect piece of skill.

            I have seen great games of football at all levels, and some of the most memorable games of football have been between women’s teams.
            For example, I was at the Sydney Olympics final where Norway beat the USA; that was an epic contest. On TV, the Matildas’ comeback against Canada at the 2007 World Cup, and their performances at the 2015 tournament.

            And I am excited about going to see the Matildas play this afternoon!

    • September 15th 2017 @ 10:18am
      Ken Spacey said | September 15th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      Media attention a little bit underwhelming as not only is this a capacity crowd but people had to make the decision to be there by buying a ticket in advance. It is also a stand alone event not riding off other events such as being a curtain raiser or double header or wider tournament.

      Might also point out that the Oz media should be a little bit more well informed when quoting rates of pay for one sport compared to another. Australia’s best male soccer players make far more money (mostly) overseas than they do here and while not the same for Matildas squad in money or choice that i also true. The growth of pro club sporrt for women in some cricket and Union nations is slow if its happening at all but women’s soccer at club level has grown solidly in some very first world economies. So some of our best girls such as Sam K could find themselves getting income from two or even three club sources plus FFA retainer. The balance here is that it must cost a bit to bring quality opponents like Brazil out but the broad aim for women’s sport should be to be to be able to attract paying crowds to at least cover most of he costs in putting the show on and this is a major step. Onya girls!

      • September 15th 2017 @ 11:03am
        Lionheart said | September 15th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

        There was quite an influx of foreign players in the W League last season, and you’d expect that to increase next season. Plus there are many W League players with overseas clubs. They do it for the experience plus the money. Roar has signed a Chinese striker for this coming season, Wai Ki Yeung, which will hopefully increase our fan base too.

    • September 15th 2017 @ 11:07am
      Casper said | September 15th 2017 @ 11:07am | ! Report

      Any idea what kind of money the soccer girls can make in the US? I imagine that their crowds would be quite small, less than 5k.

      • September 15th 2017 @ 11:55am
        pacman said | September 15th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

        Last years average crowds in NSWL matches was 5558, so you are close. Particularly as the average is distorted by Portland Thorn FC averaging 16945 per match. Payments to players has been increasing, very similar to, but in advance of, payments to our W-League players.

        From Wikipedia:

        “In each season, teams receive a salary cap that limits their total spending on players. The salaries of allocated players from the United States, Canadian, and Mexican national teams are paid by their respective federations instead of their NWSL clubs, and do not count against their club’s salary cap.[40]

        Non-allocated players, including international players, also have minimum and maximum salary limits. Players allocated by the US, Canadian, or Mexican federations are also exempt from these limits.[41][42][43]

        Year Team cap Unallocated player salary limts
        Minimum Maximum
        2013 $200,000 $6,000 $30,000
        2014 $265,000 $6,842 $37,800
        2016 $278,000 $7,200 $39,700
        2017 $315,000 $15,000 $41,700
        All currency amounts are in USD.”

        Edit: Doesn’t line up very well. First column is team salary cap, second column minimum player payment, third column maximum player payment.

        • September 15th 2017 @ 12:07pm
          Nemesis said | September 15th 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          Good data, pacman. Thank you.

          So that makes sense. It’s reported the top Aussie players will earn A$130k+ per year from full-time football.

          This makes sense for top Aussie players, like Sam Kerr, with the breakdown:

          (figures A$000)
          WLeague: 30
          NWSL: 50
          National Team: 45
          Sponsorships: 10+

    • September 15th 2017 @ 3:07pm
      Lionheart said | September 15th 2017 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

      I’ve got to say, of Australia’s national ladies teams I very much enjoy watching the Matildas and the Jillaroos the most. I wish we could see them more often.

    • September 15th 2017 @ 4:53pm
      Footoverhand said | September 15th 2017 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

      It’s not great, but it’s a start.
      Watch the Matilda’s on 2, 3pm Saturday against Brazil.
      Last time we met our girls did it with aplomb, at Canada it was a different story.
      Mata has retired from international football, will Sam Kerr score a hatrick?
      Find out on Saturday, the big guns fire salute.

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