In news that doesn’t come as any surprise, the Matildas are fking killing it. I knew this and you also knew this. But unfortunately this world of ours is structured in such a grossly patriarchal way that women’s league sport doesn’t get a measly look in until something freak of nature occurs. So unfortunately, many didn’t know this.
The Socceroos simply rock up to a game (that as far as World Cup stats go, are likely to lose) and they’ve stolen our hearts. The Matildas? Well they’re gonna have to pull out 4 consecutive match wins and a miraculous come-from-behind win. Sounds fair, right?
Well hello world, there you have it – the Matildas have bloody done it. Are you ready to pay attention, now?
Massive result ???????? Congratulations Matildas and Sam Kerr with 4 goals ? pic.twitter.com/qdQbnfUeJN
— TIM CAHILL (@Tim_Cahill) June 18, 2019
The Pay Gap
The Socceroos banked an impressive $8 million after qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. It sure is impressive, but when compared to the measly $1 million the Matildas received, it fast becomes an appalling figure – one that represents the vast (and frankly sickening) difference between how women’s league sport is valued across the globe.
In news that isn’t any more comforting, if the Matildas actually win this year’s WWC, they’ll bank $4 million (in individual winnings) – half of what the Socceroos made for simply rocking up to the damn thing they ended up losing. If that isn’t a disgusting representation of how we value our most talented sports women, I don’t know what is.
The Issue Of Revenue
What routinely comes up in discussions about the gender pay gap in professional sport is that player payment pools are determined via a complex combination of metrics (think things like advertising revenue). The 2018 World Cup generated over $257 million in advertising revenue, compared to $40 million (ish) for the Women’s World Cup. I say ‘-ish’ because actual figures aren’t available – yet another indication of how women’s league is perceived (like you needed another one anyway).
Advertising is a lucrative business and brands are hesitant to take risks if it’s going to mean audiences aren’t receptive to change. Thankfully (and fking finally) things are changing in this space. With audiences increasingly receptive to women’s league sport, whether it be through viewership or consumerism, brands are noticing a positive shift toward women’s league and are jumping on the bandwagon. What’s frustrating is that women and female sports stars are still considered a ‘risk’, despite continuously proving they’re a safe bet – and a bet that’s pretty likely to win.
Players’ Unions Piped Up Before This Year’s World Cup
Leading up to the 2019 WWC, players’ unions urged FIFA to expand the pool of player revenue from $44 million to $83 million. This seems a pretty painless task when compared to the 2019 FIFA Men’s World Cup, where the player payment pool levelled at $580 million.
It’s like comparing petty cash to corporate stocks.
Yet even with this increase, the gap between men’s and women’s league is symbolic of a worldwide struggle. How are budding young female sports stars expected to view professional sport as a feasible career path when the income is so measly? Whilst W-league contracts can level up to $500,000 (Sam Kerr’s estimated pay cheque), those below her are paid anywhere between $10,000 – $16,000 per 14-week season. Most are expected to work secondary jobs to support themselves – is this how much we really value our most talented sports women?
Attitudes Are Shifting
Whilst it’s a slow and gradual shift, attitudes are indeed shifting and audiences are receptive to change. The Matildas are copping an embarrassingly low pay cheque, but their continual success, professionalism and sports-woman-ship is fastening the journey to more equality. In order for this pay gap to close, audiences hold a vital role in shifting the attention of advertisers toward the marketability and goddamn first-class talent the Matildas are worthy of being valued for.
The more we celebrate these girls, the faster others will catch on. So spread the word, the Matildas are bloody good, and they ought to be bloody rewarded for it.
Sources: Matildas Facebook, Giphy, @TimCahill.