Currently ranked at world number six, it’s difficult to deny that the Matildas are quite possibly Australia’s most successful sporting team at present.
They have been referred to as the “Darlings of Australian Sport”, but do they truly get the same recognition as their world 40 ranked male counterparts? Recognition perhaps, but commensuration is a different story.
Long-time avid football fan and recreational player, Ash Johnson knows all too well the obstacles Australian female football players have had to overcome throughout history and to date.
According to Johnson, pay and lack of exposure are two of the biggest issues that prevent Australian female footballers from reaching their full potential.
Most female football players have alternate jobs, are studying or take their skills overseas to make a living as the pay received in Australia just isn’t enough.
Johnson says, “I know they’ve had a lot of pay disputes over the years, they’ve had strikes for a pay increase, and the FFA have said – We have three buckets of money, one each for the men, women and youth. If we pay the women more, this will need to come from the men or the youth.”
A breakdown of the earning capability for Australian women in football was published in an article by ABC in 2015. (AAP 2015)
Social media opinions agree that pay and equity are major issues for women’s sport as a whole.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. We are on the cusp of some significant and positive changes after funds were injected into the women’s game in 2017.
“The new agreement will see roster sizes increase with the W-League’s salary cap doubled from $150,000 in 2016/17 to $300,000 in 2017/18 and then to $350,000 in 2018/19.
The wages come with no maximum cap for any one player and the average pay rate for W-League players is also expected to jump from $6,909 to $15,500 for the coming season”. – (Cooper 2017)
Although a step in the right direction $15,500 isn’t enough for female footballers to live on.
Considering their male counterparts in the A-League receive a minimum salary of $61,000, six times higher than the W-League, and a salary cap of 2.6 million, almost nine times higher than the W-League, this pay increase is meagre.
Over recent years, names like Samantha Kerr have become etched in the minds of the general public whether they follow the game or not.
To have Kerr named as 2017’s Young Australian of the Year goes to show that Australia is beginning to pay attention to the female athletes that represent their country and look to them as sources of pride and inspiration.
Now the wait is on to see if we as a country will continue investing to give our female athletes the best possible chance to reach their full potential and do Australia proud.
With the Matildas recently qualifying for their seventh successive World Cup, the time is now.
AAP. 2015. “Women’s World Cup: Matildas to earn a fraction of what Socceroos did at FIFA World Cup, PFA calls for more equality.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-24/matildas-pay-dwarfed-by-that-of-socceroos/6569022.
Cooper, Luke. 2017. “Australia’s Female Footballers Get A Huge Payrise But There’s A Catch.” https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/09/11/australias-female-footballers-get-a-huge-payrise-but-theres-a-catch_a_23203926/.
100 Word Descriptor:
I have always been passionate about equal pay for equal play. I knew the pay for the men and women was very unbalanced but wasn’t aware of just how significant it was.
My mind boggles that our men’s team, who are ranked at number 40, receive almost nine times the salary cap that our women who are world ranked number six receive, and their minimum pay is more than six times higher. I did not know this until I researched the above articles and watched the “Australian Story – Pitch Perfect” Matildas Special on the abc.
The fan I used is a friend of mine who has taught me a lot about football. She plays football herself and has done so for several years. We attend games together and she is the one who highlighted the difference in pay to me several months ago, so I thought she was the perfect candidate for this interview and topic.