Suddenly, Australia is leading the world in the fight for equal pay between male and female footballers.
In an extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement launched today, W-League footballers will earn the same minimum hourly-rate as their A-League counterparts, which will represent roughly an increase of a third on their annual salaries.
It comes after months of negotiating between the governing body, Football Federation Australia (FFA) and the player’s representative body, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and takes advantage of an ongoing stoush over governance of both leagues.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that female football is basking in the glow of its greatest ever spotlight, as the Matildas list among the favourites for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
But for the PFA, this landmark agreement is just one of the battles it takes to win the war. FFA are very small fish compared to the players’ next target, FIFA.
Three days ago, the PFA launched its campaign for prize money equity between the men’s and women’s World Cups. The women at this year’s tournament in France will earn just 7.5 per cent of the total prizepool awarded to sides at the 2018 World Cup.
The disparity is so great between FIFA’s reported bank balance of over $2.75 billion and the $5.8 million allocated for the women’s World Cup that FIFA’s two highest executives, president Gianni Infantino and general secretary Fatma Samoura, earn more in combined annual wages.
PFA’s campaign, launched out of frustration at over a year of failed private negotiations with FIFA, is publicly backed by the Matildas squad and places Australian football as a frontrunner of the growing push for equality among the world’s strongest female sides.
“It is the players themselves who are the victims of the discrimination,” PFA executive John Didulica Didulica said.
“The PFA expressly reserves the rights of the players to have this matter resolved through appropriate means including mediation and arbitration. There is no legal, economic or practical reason why this cannot occur after the tournament.”
The campaign was immediately picked up by the global player representatives, FIFPro, who said they were determined to support the PFA’s campaign.
“FIFA has agreed to our request to start negotiating new conditions for women’s national team players after the 2019 Women’s World Cup, and we are determined to making real and lasting progress on behalf of the (Matildas).”
The W-League decision comes after the reigning World champions, the United States, sued their own governing body for pay discrimination and the world’s best female footballer, Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg, announced she wouldn’t be playing in the World Cup due to the treatment of female football.
Hergerberg was infamously asked to ‘twerk’ at the award ceremony.
These are black marks on an otherwise lucrative publicity boost for FIFA, with the showpiece competition securing record broadcast deals and demand for tickets so high that the World Cup final sold out in less than half an hour.
But it’s a sign of what’s to come as women’s football surges towards levels of popularity unseen in female sport.