Australia’s women’s soccer team, the Matildas, have won the Asian Cup and made the quarter-finals of the World Cup in June, but while players such as Christian Rinaldo make $52 million annually Real Madrid, the nation’s top female players get by on just $21,000 a year.
But they haven’t been paid for two months as part of a long-running and increasingly bitter pay dispute with Football Federation Australia (FFA) and have now pulled out of a two-match tour against the world cup champions, the United States, as the fight over pay continues.
Negotiations over a collective bargaining agreement for both male and female since the last one expired on June 30 have been increasingly rancorous and may drag on to the start of the A-League on October 8.
The Matildas withdrew from a training camp in Sydney this week and the Socceroos boycotted commercial appearances ahead of their World Cup qualifier in Perth last week.
While 60,000 tickets had been sold for the US games, FFA chief executive David Gallop said the Matildas made “unannounced, fresh demands” this week, including upgrades on their flights, as well as accommodation on the US tour, a claim disputed by the union representing the players, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).
PFA CEO Adam Vivian said the Matildas decided to withdraw from the tour late yesterday.
“The players are currently uncontracted and are under no obligation to participate in any Matildas related activities,” he said.
“The players feel they have been left with no option other than to take this course of action.”
On ABC Radio, Vivian said the Matildas players were seeking an additional $150,000 in total on top of the current offer.
“It’s not a huge amount of money considering we’re talking about over the next four years,” he said.
“They don’t even have yearly contracts, they have six month contracts and those six month contracts equate to about $10,500.”
FFA boss David Gallop released a statement saying the Matildas have been dragged into a dispute that’s primarily about the A-League
“The offer to the Matildas would basically double their pay over the next four years. The new demands are simply not affordable and the PFA knows it,” he said.
The current offer from the FFA is believed to increase base pay for the Matildas to around $33,000 over four years.
Meanwhile, the 10 A-League clubs said yesterday it “rejected outright” a request for extra $3 million in salary payments for A-League players.
The PFA is seeking an extra $1 million in payments across 10 clubs and an extra $2 million in the 2016/17 season.
Adelaide United FC Chairman Greg Griffin described the request as “economic vandalism”.
“The PFA has shown its reckless regard for the clubs who collectively employ over 200 professional players,” Griffin said. “The demand for another $3 million in payments is a dangerous folly, especially in such a young league. Do they want to send clubs broke before they comprehend the damage?
Today the clubs reaffirmed their unanimous support for Football Federation Australia’s position over the which already offers increases and a guaranteed 30% share of any uplift in future TV revenues to Hyundai A-League players.
Sydney FC Chairman Scott Barlow said the PFA has “lost all sense of perspective”.
“Today the majority of A-League clubs are still losing money and the PFA’s latest demands would simply push clubs further into debt. We cannot afford to see clubs go broke,” he said.
David Gallop said the current offer included a guarantee of 30% of uplift in new TV revenue going straight to the salary cap.
The Australian soccer industry generates an estimated $100 million in revenue annually.
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