• Pablo Lario

Equal Pay, A Serious Deal For Women's Football

This summer, fans from all around will go to France to enjoy what can be seen as the greatest event for women's football development and inclusion in the footballing world in history: The 2019 Women's World Cup, that will hopefully allow the stars of the game to showcase their skills to a bigger audience than ever before.

From June 7 to July 7, 2019, spectators will be able to enjoy exciting encounters between the biggest nations of the world. Among them, the favorite to win once again, the United States, champions of the last World Cup, 4 years ago, after beating Japan in the grand final in Canada (5-2). Next to them, the two-time champions, Germany, and "Les Bleus" (Chelsea, is that you?), who will be the hosts to this great event for the first time.

The likes of Holland, England and Spain are all teams to be followed and taken into account, especially after the performance of some of these nations in the Euro 2017. The question is, who will show their potential in France and take the precious trophy home?

However, today we're not focusing on how beautiful and amazing teams are in the competition, we're going to talk about the salary gap that still exists in the world of women's football, even after the big increase of popularity it's had in recent years.

Soccer is already governed by the same rules as any business sector. The salaries are based on the income they generate. However, as in any capitalist society, there are areas in which inequality is of such a caliber that it collides. That is what is happening with the vast majority of the teams participating in the next World Cup in France. Except for some exceptions, all women footballers earn salaries that are "scandalously" lower than their male counterparts.

As mentioned, one of the favorites to reach the final of the competition is the United States, where some of its players can be considered as real stars, well above the USA's male team. The current world champion has given the game true legends, like goalkeeper Hope Solo, Abby Wambach or Carly Lloyd among many others. In addition, in the USA, the women's team has achieved more success than the men's. While the best position the guys have ever achieved was third place in the first ever World Cup in Uruguay (1930), the women have lifted the cup in three occasions and in another two have reached the final.

However, the inequality in wages is so serious that the US team members filed a lawsuit for discrimination against the US Federation a few months ago, demanding the same pay and working conditions as that of their male teammates. Fortunately, the opposite situation can be seen in the Norway and Denmark teams.

Since last year, Norway has the same budget for the men's team as it does for the women's team. But, to reach this agreement, members from both sides decided to end with the difference between one and another and just be the same, in order to match the conditions. After this agreement, one of the Norwegian players, Carolina Graham, wrote the following in her Twitter account, making an allusion to the decision adopted by her national teammates: "This gesture may not mean anything to you, but it means everything to us. Everything for our team and for our sport. A very important gesture for all women athletes who do the same job, the same sport as men, but it is paid less!"

As for the Danish national teams, the salaries of both were also matched and like their neighbors, the involvement of male players was very important in the process. One of the most active in the negotiations was Sevilla FC defender Simon Kjær, who was very combative at the time of presenting a clear fact: both men and women represent Denmark and, therefore, they should be paid the same. In addition, the stars that play outside the country demanded that the federation guarantee the same basic rights and the same agreements for both teams.

In Australian football, although gender pay equality has not yet been achieved, there has been remarkable progress following the increase in 2017 of salaries.

In South Korea, however, the important differences between pay and conditions of work between men and women continue. In 2015, the South Korean Football Federation (KFA) was publicly criticized for organizing a tour for the women's national team, in which Chelsea star Ji So-Yun had to sit in economy, while the men's team traveled in business. While in Italy, women footballers have no professional status and receive a maximum of 30,658 euros per year, in addition to the reimbursement of certain expenses. The salaries do not exceed 3000 or 4000 euros per month.

And in France, the highest-paid player and first Golden Ball in women's football, the Norwegian Ada Hegerberg, Lyon superstar, receives a record salary of 400,000 euros per year, while Paris Saint-Germain Brazilian Neymar receives about 30 million, according to the local press.

The evolution of salaries depends on the global ecosystem of women's football, between sponsors and television rights, said the vice president of the French Football Federation (FFF), Brigitte Henriques, at a congress in Paris last February. Bullshit!

Why is there no one from the big federations of football trying something to solve this problem? Is women's football less important than men's? So far, FIFA expects more than 1 billion viewers to watch the 2019 World Cup, while strategic efforts continue to make women's football grow all over the world. Of course, this expectation is incomparable with the figure of 3572 million viewers left by Russia 2018. Let's just hope some of the money collected goes to the players instead of the FIFA members sitting in their f****** comfy sofas.

For now, let's enjoy the game the women footballers have to offer this summer in France. Because that's right, women's football is here to stay, and clearly, they are not going to lose this fight!

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