Editorial: The Westfield Matildas push the fight for equal pay in sports with a historical deal

Medha Prodduturi, Editor-in-Chief

Following a landmark deal this month, Australian women’s national soccer team, the Westfield Matildas, will now earn the same as their male counterparts, the Caltex Socceroos. In the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the Matildas earned about $700,000 for qualifying to the knockout stage while the Socceroos earned $5.5 million for merely qualifying for the 2018 Men’s World Cup.  With such disparity, the historic deal that aimed to close the gender pay gap between both teams may help prompt similar movements around the world.

In a statement released after the negotiation, the Football Federation Australia (FFA) said, “The new agreement reflects football’s determination to address issues of gender equity in all facets of the game and build a sustainable financial model.” 

The Matildas will now be able to travel business class and will be provided with coaching support the same standard as the men’s. They will also earn an increased portion of the World Cup prize money and resources for youth football programs. The FFA claimed that, overall, the deal amounts to a 90% rise in guaranteed minimum payments. 

Although the deal is a huge step forward for women in the sport, pay disparities still persist when it comes to the World Cup tournament prizes. The prize money for the 2019 Women’s World Cup was $30 million while the 2018 Men’s World Cup was $400 million. With the prize money for both tournaments being drastically different, the women still end up earning far less than the men despite the exceeding quality of their play. 

The U.S. women’s national soccer team, much like the Matildas, has sued the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) due to apparent pay discrepancies. With four World Cup titles and tremendous success on the soccer field, the women’s team receives comparatively less compensation than the men’s team. 

The women sign contracts that provide an annual salary of $100,000 and bonuses for wins and ties only. According to the Washington Post, the men are not guaranteed a set annual salary but are provided with $5000 in bonuses even if they lose. Overall, the women earned bonuses of $90,000 for reaching the quarterfinals in the 2019 World Cup. If the U.S. men’s team had reached the same point in last year’s World Cup, they would have gotten bonuses of $550,000. Due to this, USWNT has long been associated with leading the fight for equal pay for women in soccer, and this new deal can only stand as a factor of motivation and hope. 

The Matildas, meanwhile, have been celebrating their win as they stand behind teams that continue their fights. Midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight shared a video on Twitter about the team’s history and wrote, “So many have played a part to help grow the game to where it is today. But remember, we’re not finished yet.”

Women athletes at the highest levels of play have taken their fight for proper compensation and better opportunities. Their unflinching demand to get paid what they deserve is a driving factor to ending gender discrimination in sports. The FFA’s decision to join this demand proved to women in sports that equal pay is possible. The agreement highlights the glaring inequalities present between men and women in professional sports. It encourages teams around the world to call for what they deserve and governing bodies of sports to serve what is deserved.