But there has been outcry from some quarters that they have made a gesture borne of political correctness – that the Matildas don’t deserve the same money simply because they don’t bring in as much revenue as the Socceroos. This viewpoint is inescapable on social media.
On paper, it might look like the Socceroos have agreed to a pay cut. They believe they have actually made an investment, and that the nature of the CBA will actually lead to greater returns for themselves, and everyone else, through the growth of football as a whole.
“They’re the ones who are explicitly affected by this decision,” PFA chief executive John Didulica told The Age. “Yet they see it as not only the right thing to do, but in their interests to do it.
“There hasn’t even been a point of contention. They see the value in investing in women’s football.
“I think that should be enough for anybody behind a keyboard to accept. If they don’t like it, they can take it up with Mile themselves, and we’ll see how many have got the courage to do that.”
Milligan’s eyes opened to the power and influence of the Matildas when he took his two daughters, who idolise Sam Kerr, to watch the Women’s World Cup in France earlier this year.
They see it as not only the right thing to do, but in their interests to do it.
PFA chief executive John Didulica
“To be able to go across and witness it first-hand was extraordinary,” Milligan said. “The timing for me probably couldn’t have been better because it really drove home how important it was during these negotiations that they got what they deserved and going forward, what a value they are to the Australian footballing community.”
The new CBA is not an end in itself but another step on a long journey for women’s football. Men’s players earn the vast majority of their income from their clubs, not their national teams.
Because of the commercial immaturity of women’s club football, it’s the other way around – instead of match payments like the Socceroos, the Matildas receive centralised contracts to give them a surer financial footing, but a comparative pittance from the clubs they play for. In the W-League, players are now paid the same hourly rate as their A-League counterparts, but the minimum wage is still just $16,344.
In Didulica’s words, “a very complex Excel spreadsheet” will crunch the numbers and ensure the top-earning Socceroo will receive the same amount, to the cent, as the top-earning Matilda will from FFA. But it’ll be a much, much bigger challenge to convince clubs around the world – and in Australia – to achieve anything close to pay parity in domestic football.
“The way that everyone in the game is on board with this, I’m hoping the public follow,” said former Matilda Sarah Walsh, now FFA’s head of game development.
“For true equity, particularly in society, beyond football, it is going to mean men and women have to come together. For me this is a massive symbolic gesture of what can happen.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.