Australian Women and Men’s Soccer Teams Reach Deal to Close Pay Gap

Australian soccer’s governing body has announced what it calls a landmark agreement with the country’s players union to close the pay gap between the men’s and women’s national teams.

The men’s team, known as the Socceroos, and the women’s team, the Matildas, will receive equal shares of total player revenue as part of a four-year deal between the Football Federation Australia and the union, Professional Footballers Australia.

“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 federation said in a statement on Tuesday.

The deal gives players an increased portion of World Cup and Asian Cup prize money. The federation also agreed to give both teams equal resources, upgrade the parental leave policy and set money aside for youth football programs.

But the pay gap will persist when it comes to World Cup payouts because the prizes in those tournaments vary drastically. The prize money for the 2019 Women’s World Cup was $30 million. For the men’s World Cup the year before, the amount was $400 million.

The Matildas, like the United States women’s national team, regularly outperform their men’s counterparts in international competitions. The Australian women are ranked eighth in the world by FIFA, while the men’s team is ranked 44th.

Protests over the lack of gender parity have roiled women’s soccer worldwide in recent years. Members of the United States women’s team, which won the Women’s World Cup in France this year, have sued the sport’s governing body in the United States, accusing the organization of gender discrimination. The case is set to go to trial in May. As the team was feted in a ticker-tape parade in New York in July after winning its second straight world title, fans shouted “U-S-A! Equal Pay!”

Ada Hegerberg, the star Norwegian striker for the French team Olympique Lyonnais, who was the first woman to receive the prestigious Ballon d’Or last year, quit her national team in 2017, saying it was not doing enough to support the women’s program. (The host at the Ballon d’Or ceremony asked her onstage if she knew how to twerk, drawing widespread condemnation.)

Australia is among the countries vying to host the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Speaking to the Australian Associated Press, the defender Ellie Carpenter said she thought the publicity around the pay agreement would help the bid.

Other players and famous women athletes also celebrated the news on social media.

“#EqualPay is possible!” Billie Jean King, the tennis great, wrote on Twitter.

Alanna Kennedy, a defender with the Matildas, wrote on Twitter that she was “extremely proud to be a part of history with today’s equal pay news.” Elise Kellond-Knight, a midfielder, 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.”

In statements, the federation chairman, Chris Nikou, called the agreement’s framework, which ties player compensation to team revenue, unique. The chief executive of the players union, John Didulica, called it a model “to unlock the incredible social and commercial opportunity that, in particular, women’s football presents.”

Under the contract, players would be ranked in three tiers, and the guaranteed minimum salary for the Matildas would rise. The federation said it would also renegotiate sponsor contracts.