Four years after the United States won the Women’s World Cup to cheers of “equal pay,” this year’s co-hosts, Australia, have brought the problem of gender equity back to soccer’s biggest stage as players from all federations demand better conditions and pay.
In a video message shared on Monday, the Matildas brought up the difference in prize money for men and women at the World Cup. This will keep the issue in the spotlight in the days before the event starts in Australia and New Zealand, where the Matildas play.
The team went on strike in 2015 to ask for better pay, and since 2019, they have gotten the same minimum share of prize money for events as men’s teams.
“Collective bargaining has helped us get the same conditions as the Socceroos, with one exception: FIFA will still only give women one-quarter as much prize money as men for the same achievement,” the players said.
The comment comes at a time when women’s soccer players all over the world are calling for better pay and playing conditions.
Canada was still in a fight with their national league a few days before the event started on Thursday. Jamaica, on the other hand, was unhappy with how much help they were getting from their governing body.
Several top players in the sport have been sidelined by injuries before tournaments. This has caused people to worry about how much money the women’s game gets and how many games players have to play.
“The level of care isn’t quite where we need it to be, and there are more injuries,” said Olivia Chance, a member of the New Zealand team who is coming back from an injury to play on her home turf. “We are trying to get the rules of the game to be better.”
Last month, FIFA announced a plan to give at least $30,000 to each player who competes. Instead of all of the prize money going to the federations, some of it will go straight to the players.
But the total prize amount of $110 million, which is about 300% more than what was offered in 2019, is nothing compared to the $440 million that the men won in Qatar last year.
When Reuters called FIFA on Monday, they didn’t say anything right away. The governing body has said in the past that it wants prize money to be the same for all teams by the 2026 and 2027 World Cups.
Rebecca Sowden, a former player for New Zealand and head of women’s sports marketing company Team Heroine, said, “They’ve come to the party on one thing, but they really need to show that consistent effort and resources behind it.”
After the four-time winner United States sued their league in the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, claiming that their pay and playing conditions were unfair to women, the Australian team’s video made the calls for gender equality in sports even louder.
Last year, the two sides worked out their pay disagreement, and a judge later agreed to a $24-million deal. They had already come to an agreement about how to play.
Christina Philippou, a senior lecturer in accounting, economics, and finance at the University of Portsmouth, said, “I think the fact that the case got so much attention and went on for so long was a turning point.”
“And we’ve seen that a lot of other countries have followed suit in some ways when it comes to equal pay.”
In 2020, the Football Association announced that the match fees for England’s men’s and women’s teams were the same. At the same time, the Brazilian association joined Australia, Norway, and New Zealand in agreeing to pay players the same amount for each cap they earn.
Megan Rapinoe, a U.S. veteran, told reporters, “Having charter flights, the best hotels, all the recovery resources, and the money to give that to the players, of course, all the medical teams, and everything gives us the best chance to not only play at our best but also keep up with the level on the field.”
“That’s what it’s all about, you know, to have that for every team in the tournament and to be able to create an environment where teams can reach their full potential.”