Australia’s Matildas have released a video statement calling out gender disparity in World Cup prize money and voicing support for women players denied “the basic right” of collective bargaining in pay negotiations.
The video, supported by Australia’s professional players union, features every member of the co-hosts’ Women’s World Cup squad and comes amid pay disputes at multiple teams at the tournament starting on Thursday.
The Matildas went on strike in 2015 to demand better pay and have received the same minimum percentage of prize money for tournaments as the Australia national men’s team, the Socceroos, since a 2019 collective bargaining agreement.
However, they will compete for a fraction of the $440 million total prize pool offered to the men’s teams at last year’s World Cup in Qatar.
“Seven hundred and thirty-six footballers have the honour of representing their countries on the biggest stage this tournament, yet many are still denied the basic right to organise and collectively bargain,” the players say in the video.
“Collective bargaining has allowed us to ensure we now get the same conditions as the Socceroos, with one exception – FIFA will still only offer women one quarter as much prize money as men for the same achievement.
“We call on those who run the game to work to provide opportunities for girls and women in football, whether that be players, coaches, administrators or officials.”
Global governing body FIFA did not provide immediate comment.
The total prize pool for the Women’s World Cup is $110 million, roughly 300% higher than what FIFA offered for the 2019 tournament in France.
FIFA is aiming for prize money parity by the time of the next men’s and women’s World Cups in 2026 and 2027, respectively.
Players from Women’s World Cup teams England, Canada and Nigeria have been in dispute with their federations over pay in the leadup to the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
The Matildas’ message suggested gender equity in sport would again be a major point of discussion during the tournament, as it was in 2019 when the United States’ pay dispute with their federation took the spotlight.
New Zealand midfielder Olivia Chance told Reuters it was natural for women to “push for equal”.
“We are pushing for better standards of the game and I think it’s only natural when you see an organisation that maybe are giving more – because they always have – then you’re going to push for equal,” she said.
“In a workplace, if you see someone getting more, you’re going to push,” she added, noting that she had not yet seen the video message. “That’s just natural as a human being.”
The Matildas’ statement is reminiscent of the video released by the Socceroos ahead of the 2022 World Cup which spoke out against Qatar’s record on human rights and same-sex relationships.