The Matildas met yesterday and voted to abandon the tour in protest of the FFA’s reluctance to grant better pay and conditions in a new collective bargaining agreement.
The FFA is under intense pressure to satisfy Australia’s footballers as it deals with major pay and conditions disputes with the women’s national team and A-league players.
After a meeting yesterday with the union, Professional Footballers Australia, the Matildas decided to pull out of a tour of the United States, due to start in two weeks.
Adam Vivian is the players’ union chief executive.
He says a hold-up in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement has meant the women’s national team players have not been paid in two pay cycles.
“What they’re seeking in terms of the agreement are largely things around a correction, an immediate correction, in their remuneration. And then the vast majority of their claims are actually around conditions and seeking minimum standards akin to that of an elite professional athlete. They won’t be overly surprising, but around how they’re employed, the number of contracts, the length of their contracts, their conditions for travel, relocation and accommodation, their notice periods for termination. Then there’s some gender-specific issues that they’d like addressed as well, around parental management policies, pregnancy polices, which directly implicate the athletes within the Matildas group.”
A collective bargaining agreement between the FFA and the men and women’s national teams, as well as A-league players, expired at the end of June.
Mr Vivian says one of the key issues for female football players is the imbalance between their pay and their training program.
“They have agreed to part-time wages with a part-time program. Now, in the lead up to the lead up the Women’s World Cup they were afforded part-time wages on a full-time program, so they’re probably at least 50 per cent behind and herein lies their issue – I think they want a full-time program because we can see what success that drives in terms of their Women’s World Cup performance, but they should be remunerated at the same level because if you’ve got a full-time program it’s almost impossible for them to be able to get out there, to be able to work and seek other forms of income.”
The union and FFA are also locked in tense discussions over an increase to the A-league salary cap.
The dispute could result in a player lockout and a delay to the start of the season if there is no resolution in the coming weeks.
FFA chief executive David Gallop says the current demands from the players’ union are not affordable.
“We would love to see the Matildas paid more. We’ve invested a lot in their program over the last year to prepare them for Canada and the World Cup and now we’ve provided an opportunity for them to play the world champions in the USA. 60,000 tickets had been sold. You have to questions whether yesterday’s maneuver by players’ association is really in the long-term interests of helping us grow the pie and making sure the Matildas do ultimately end up in a better position than they’re in today.”
Jeanne McNulty-King is a former professional basketball player from the United States and the chief executive of 2X Inc, a sports agency representing female athletes.
She says in many cases it’s difficult for female athletes to negotiate similar pay and conditions to their male colleagues, as they do not benefit from the same TV deals and brand opportunities.
“In the WNBA versus the NBA, it’s ‘who makes the revenue? Who brings the fans to the games? Who has the major television deals’, you know? So they’re creating tons and tons of money in which they’re turning around and getting paid, whereas the women are losing money every year. So you can kind of understand, if you’re not making the money it’s hard to get paid the money. The hard thing is that one follows the other – so with more exposure we’re going to get more popularity, but you can’t get more popularity until you get that more exposure more exposure, so it’s just, ‘which is going to come first?'”