In a major statement that reflects well on all involved, the FAI has announced that players representing the Republic of Ireland Senior Men and Senior Women’s international teams will receive the same match fees on international duty.
The new arrangement takes effect immediately for the three Men’s World Cup Qualifiers against Portugal, Azerbaijan and Serbia, and for the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers away to Georgia and at home to Sweden.
The historic three-way agreement between the Men’s and Women’s squads and the FAI was brokered by FAI CEO Jonathan Hill and Ciaran Medlar, advisor to the male and female international players, alongside captains Katie McCabe and Seamus Coleman.
It puts the Republic of Ireland in the vanguard of equality alongside England, Norway, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand who have made the same shift towards equal pay.
The men’s squad have agreed to reduce their international fees, with the FAI matching their contribution to ensure that the Senior Women’s team match fee is increased and all male and female players receive the same match fee from the September international window onwards.
Equality of Approach
The FAI has also agreed to equality of approach with the Senior Men’s and Senior Women’s squad with regard to any future Tournament qualification.
In these days of hyper wages across the highest levels of the sport, the international fee will not be a major element in the income of many of the Men’s team but it will be more of a material benefit for the Women’s team which is still catching up in terms of the number of players who are playing at a fully professional level, at least in terms of their financial reward for playing.
The symbolism of equal pay for equal play is of real importance though and while there are some who would argue that the economic return on the Men’s game is still more, that is a carryover from historic gender bias and will over time and with effort be equalised itself.
If you suggested that teachers or doctors, bus drivers or journalists be paid more or less based on their gender you would rightly be shouted down.
Welcoming the announcement today, Ireland Senior Women’s Team captain Katie McCabe said: “This is a great day for Irish football. We have taken a huge step forward with this deal and have shown the world what can be achieved through unity as we offer male and female international players the same opportunities.”
“I am very proud as Ireland captain of the work that has been put in to get us to this point, not just by the current team but by so many Irish players in the past. They are the real heroes in this story, they took a stand and they passed on the baton to the current generation. Seamus Coleman and his teammates in the Senior Men’s squad also deserve credit for being brave enough to support us in such a progressive way on this issue. It is really appreciated.”
“I also want to thank Jonathan Hill and Ciaran Medlar for their roles in this agreement. The relationship between the FAI and the Senior Women’s team is stronger than I have ever known it and we look forward to continuing to work together to make Irish football better for everyone who plays our game, regardless of their identity or background.”
Senior Ireland Men’s team captain Seamus Coleman added: “On behalf of the Senior Men’s squad, I welcome this news today. We are delighted as players to do what we can to ensure that our female international players are treated equally and fairly and we remain fully committed to doing whatever we can to achieve that goal together. This deal is the right one for everyone who plays international football for Ireland, no matter which team they represent. We have been working towards this agreement for some time now with Katie, Jonathan and Ciaran and I hope this acts as an inspiration to many other nations to follow suit.”
“Speaking on behalf of the Board of the FAI and myself, we are delighted to announce this historic agreement today,” said FAI CEO Hill.
“As we celebrate our Centenary and begin to build out the strategic plan for a new FAI, the Board agreed unanimously that this is absolutely the right thing for us to do as an Association. This is another important milestone in the FAI’s own transformation journey and I believe this equal pay programme shows us to be the progressive footballing nation we have always aspired to be.”
“It is also another step forward in our key strategic goal to grow the women’s game in Ireland in a sustainable and systematic way. For some months now, I have been working with Katie, Seamus and Ciaran on this agreement. Katie and her teammates are role models to all the young girls playing football in Ireland whilst the actions of Seamus and his fellow players in our Senior Men’s squad to make this equal pay proposition possible should not be underestimated.”
“When the proposal was first discussed, the Board was also united in its commitment to support the approach which we firmly believe is the right way forward for a modern, progressive and inclusive sports organisation. Our women footballers have worked tirelessly to get to this point and I am delighted to see their ambitions for equality come to fruition with today’s announcement, one which all involved with Irish sport should celebrate. We now wish Vera, Katie and the whole team the very best for their upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification campaign.”
Courtesy of Sport for Business