Australia's 'landmark' equal-pay soccer deal ends gap with one big exception

The new collective bargaining agreement reached between Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) was billed as a landmark deal in international soccer, providing equal pay between Australia's two national teams.

Yes, the agreement closes the gap, using a revenue-sharing formula to pay out the men's and women's teams equally similar to collective bargaining agreements in the NBA and NFL, but there is nothing in the agreement to close the massive gap in bonuses tied to FIFA's payment of prize moneys to teams participating in World Cups.

The Socceroos and Matildas, both represented by the same union, the PFA, agreed to share equally revenues over the terms of the four-year agreement.

CBA: Fact Sheet

The basic terms of the agreement are that the all revenues the FFA brings in from broadcasting, sponsorship, merchandising and ticket revenue -- what is termed Player Generated Revenue -- will be put into one pot and shared equally regardless of which team generated the revenues or in what amounts.

From those revenues, the teams will share 24 percent in 2019-20 with an increase of 1 percent over each of the next three years through 2023 (when Australia hopes to host the Women's World Cup).

The teams will give back 5 percent to be plowed into Australia's boys and girls national teams.

After that, players on the two teams are free to divide the money among themselves as they wish. Similar to the core of U.S. women's national team players, the Matildas will be paid salaries: more than $57,000 a year for Tier 1 players down to $27,600 for Tier 3 players. The Socceroos will be paid appearance bonuses.

The FFA has also committed to making the playing and training environment equal for the two teams: business class for international travel for both teams and the same support staffs (high-performance coaches, trainers, doctors). The federation will upgrade its parental leave policy to provide more support to Matildas.

The agreement comes four years after the Matildas went on strike, missing a trip to the USA for matches on the 2015 Victory Tour, to protest the FFA's offer of less than $15,000 in compensation for Tier 1 players, almost a quarter of what they will be get in the new deal they signed.

The agreement to share revenues is similar to agreements in the NBA and NFL, where players receive about 50 percent and 48 percent of revenues, respectively.

Until now, there has been no public discussion of the U.S. men and women receiving a percentage of revenues, though the United States National Soccer Team Players Association, which represents the men’s national team, came out in support of the women's national team's gender discrimination suit and accusing the U.S. Soccer of refusing to pay players a fair share of generated revenue.

This was in response to U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro’s letter of July 29 in which he stated the women were paid $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses as opposed to $26.4 million paid to the men over the last eight years.

Based on U.S. Soccer's Financial Statements over the last eight years, it generated more than $519 million in revenues from sponsorship, television, licensing, and royalties as well as national team game revenues. A 19 percent cut -- the percentage the Australian teams will share -- would have given the men's and women's national team players almost $99 million over the last eight years, about 50 percent more than they received collectively.

(That U.S. Soccer operates other programs -- coaching and refereeing education -- outside its national team programs would need to be accounted in any possible revenue-sharing formula.)

The FFA payments do not include World Cup (or Asian Cup) prize money, however. The agreement calls for the teams to receive 40 percent of the prize money FIFA pays out for the respective World Cups if they qualify and 50 percent if they advance to the knockout stage, but the teams keep it to themselves.

In that regard, the Australian collective bargaining agreement -- similar to the agreement reached by Norwegian national teams two years ago -- does nothing to address what has been the single biggest point of contention of the U.S. women: the difference in World Cup bonus structure between them -- four-time world champions -- and the men -- who didn't qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA's prize money at Russia 2018 was $400 million for the 32 teams, while it is paying out only $30 million for the 24 teams in France.

3 comments about "Australia's 'landmark' equal-pay soccer deal ends gap with one big exception".
  1. John Richardson, November 6, 2019 at 9:32 p.m.

    Is this a pay raise for the Men’s team ?

  2. Chris Wasdyke replied, November 7, 2019 at 11:35 a.m.

    I don't understand how the federations control how much money FIFA pays out

  3. Sean Guillory, November 7, 2019 at 5:48 p.m.

    At the end of the day the men can care less about their Country pay.  They make millions more playing for European clubs that the women will never match so there will always be a "pay gap".

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