Friday Hoyden: The Matildas

The Matildas are our Friday Hoydens for their determination to stand up for themselves so that they can continue to play the game they love, while earning a living wage. Just like the blokes do.

Close up shot of Lisa De Vanna in a 2011 World Cup match

Matildas co-captain Lisa De Vanna (in 2011), by Thewomensgame CC BY-SA

Depending on how much media content you have been engaging with you might be aware that the Australian Women’s Football Team (soccer team) the Matildas are currently on strike. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard this because after a short time in the sports feed they seem to have dropped off the radar again. It would seem however that the situation is not resolved.

The Matildas were going to play some games in the US, but have pulled out of the tour because they are currently in the middle of a pay dispute. From what I understand they are contracted to work 40 days per year and paid a base salary of $21 000. On paper this looks pretty good. I wouldn’t mind being paid $525 per day. I’m sure they wouldn’t either because they haven’t been paid for two months. They have also already worked much more than 40 days this year.

It probably won’t surprise you to know that their male counterparts get paid more. Not just the national team though, the domestic teams as well. That’s where this pay dispute gets both interesting and enraging.

The Matildas and their male counterparts are both involved in this pay dispute. Their contracts ran out in June and the negotiations have been going on for about 6 months. But the blokes are still getting paid. Also, according to this Football Federation Australia article, Professional Footballers Australia are refusing to make a deal for the Matildas unless their demands are met for changes to the pay for the men’s team and the all male A-League. Again the blokes will get a better deal.

“What we have today is an extraordinary situation in which the two male playing groups in the Socceroos and A-League continue to be paid by FFA and A-League clubs, but the female players aren’t being paid. This could have been fixed today if the PFA had accepted the interim deal.”

At The Drum Stephanie Convery writes

In June, as the Matildas’ success in the FIFA World Cup climbed, reports began circulating about how little the players were paid in comparison to their male counterparts, the Socceroos.

Each Matilda received $500 in match fees in the lead-up to their knockout game with Brazil, the ABC reported, while male players received $7500 for doing the same thing. Furthermore, while the soccer’s top sportswomen received approximately $21,000 per annum, its sportsmen could make the same amount from a mere handful of group-stage tournament games.

The Professional Footballers Association, acting on behalf of the Matildas in their negotiations for a new agreement with Football Federation Australia, argues that the team has been performing “a full-time workload for part-time wages”. The $21,000 a year that most Matildas earn on their FFA contracts is well below even the mandatory minimum wage in Australia ($34,158 per annum) and certainly not a living wage. As a result, many of the players need to take on additional jobs in order to support themselves – jobs that many of them had to quit in order to play in the World Cup at all, as preparation required a full-time commitment.

Rachel Jacobs sums it up well in this article: What this week’s domestic violence horrors and the Matildas pay dispute tells us about the value of women.

These negotiations will have long term effects on women’s sport in general. Thank you Matildas.

Image credit: Lisa De Vanna in 2011, by Wikipedia user Thewomensgame, Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike.

Categories: gender & feminism, Life

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1 reply

  1. Thanks for such a thorough summation, it’s hard to find anything to add!

    The sporting administration bodies still seem to view women in sport as hobbyists rather than professionals, even at the elite international level. It’s patronising and infantilising and all-round infuriating.

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