This coming Sunday, Western United will face Sydney FC in the A-League Women’s Grand Final in Sydney, with the potential spoils sure to inspire a ripping encounter between two evenly matched teams.
The women in Sky Blue have the pedigree, the resources and history to feel they have a right to the win, whilst the United newcomers have taken all before them, qualifying for the decider first and looking to do the unthinkable by claiming the championship in their first-ever season.
It would be an astonishing achievement for what many called a joke of a club. The men’s team lifted the infamous A-League toilet seat trophy last season; stunning heavy favourite Melbourne City in the Grand Final. A pair of championships won by what is still a new club would say a lot about the underperformance of others and continue to mount an argument for further expansion in both the A-League Men and Women competitions.
Sadly, Sunday’s match will be most likely played out in front of a moderate crowd at best, if the semi-final clash between Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory was anything to go by. Just 1,630 people found their way to Allianz Stadium to witness a Sky Blue win that came off the back of a late goal that broke Victory hearts on Saturday afternoon.
With few, if any, likely to travel north from the lowly supported Western United this weekend, the crowd figure stands to be concerning. The APL will be thankful that Victory had not prevailed against Sydney in the penultimate match, fearing a near empty stadium should two Melbourne teams have been set to face off in a typically disinterested and bandwagon influenced Sydney.
The numbers and situation all raise relevant and continued questions around the notion often presented in media as “equal pay for women”, something that is hideously misinformed and misguided when it comes to people who understand how sport, media and the entertainment industry actually work.
The A-League Women’s Grand Final will be a perfect example of why female players in the top tier of the Australian game do not deserve to be paid the same as the men. As a drawcard, the product has simply no viability without the men’s competition alongside it.
What the female players do deserve is a fair cut of the revenue generated by their performances; created by the people prepared to spent their hard-earned to attend the matches and invest in the competition.
At the moment, that share is probably roughly about right in terms of proportionate remuneration for the women’s teams. Calls from brilliant players like Megan Rapinoe, citing the equal effort invested by female players and a subsequent demand for equal financial rewards are simply idiotic and frankly, embarrassing to people with a mind moderate enough to consider context and reality.
I have a beautiful wife and two daughters and will fight for their right to earn equal pay when undertaking the same task and producing the same financial output as their male colleagues every single day of the week.
However, when it comes to the majority of women’s sports, that equality of output is simply non-existent and in fact, the piece of the pie being awarded to women from World Cup football revenue is higher from a percentage perspective than that being given to male players.
No doubt there will be the odd critical comment on the view that I present here from some labelling me a misogynist, however, I would encourage anyone tempted to do so to reflect on a few of Australia’s current female athletes, their effort levels and almost non-existent revenue streams.
Jaclyn Narracott is an Australian skeleton racer, achieving amazing things on the World Cup circuit during the European winter and an Olympic silver medallist. She battles away with little support or recognition, trains tirelessly and receives a pittance when compared to a successful male footballer, even at the A-League level.
It was only a few years ago that the story of Australian sprinter Riley Day came to light; busting her gut on a daily basis, working in a supermarket and desperate for someone to assist in her promising athletic journey.
Both women deserve more, yet suffer from the simple fact that as a commercial drawcard, their sports simply do not generate the interest and money of others. If effort was the measuring stick for pay, both would be among the top earners in Australian sport.
It is easy to whinge about women footballers being far behind the men in terms of pay, yet those that do so should probably turn up to the matches and put their money where their attitude is.
Equal pay is a lovely concept, yet the A-League Women’s Grand Final this weekend will once again show why it is far from a reality.
At the moment, female players are being paid a fair rate. Hopefully that increases and they earn more and more in the future, yet for now, the numbers suggest things are just about right.