Last week’s announcement of the new Matildas pay deal was a landmark for football in Australia. The new collective bargaining agreement has base wages built in that provide pay parity with the team’s male counterparts, the Socceroos, in many areas. With women’s sport across Australia reaching greater heights than ever before, it is worth comparing how this deal stacks up against some other women’s sports.
The new deal has guaranteed the Matildas a tiered payment system with minimum wages set at $40,000 and going up to $83,000 for top tier players – in line with what the Socceroos players will receive. Both teams will also have access to 24% of national team-generated revenue, which rises by 1% each year to 2023; 5% of this will be put back into youth and development programs. Both teams will also receive 40% of the prize money paid to Football Federation Australia for World Cup performances. Currently this is where the major disparity sits, as this money is set by Fifa and more money is provided for men’s teams than women’s; for example, the Socceroos received an $8m bonus for exiting the World Cup in the group stages, while the Matildas received $1m after progressing to the knockout stage.
The other major disparities will come from domestic league salaries and sponsorship. While the new deal has set W-League salaries at the same minimum hourly rate as the A-League, the contracted hours for the women’s teams are much shorter, meaning the minimum wage for the W-League is $16,344 while the A-League sits at $64,100. Sam Kerr will net over $1m this year thanks to sponsorship and her new contract with Chelsea, but most Matildas will not be earning equally with their Socceroos counterparts, due to fewer sponsorship opportunities and fewer domestic league opportunities.
The Matildas’ high-performance environment will also be improved to bring it in line with the Socceroos, which will include guaranteed business class flights for international travel, improved coaching structures, better operations support and access to wellbeing, education and transition services. The new pregnancy policy provides support for athletes during pregnancy and assistance to returning to the national team after childbirth.
Cricket Australia has sat at the forefront of equality between their men’s and women’s teams for some time now. Their revenue-sharing model was the result of a tricky negotiation and currently sits at 29% for both the men’s and women’s teams. The minimum international wage for an Australian women’s cricketer currently sits at approximately $75,000, increasing each year up to $87,609 by the end of the deal in 2022.
While this is the highest international minimum wage among women’s team sports in Australia, the men’s cricket team’s annual salaries start from $295,000. Men are also bolstered by their ability to play in cricket’s richest league, the Indian Premier League, while Australia’s women play mostly at home in their domestic competitions, with wages starting from around $26,000. With the introduction of The Hundred in England, there are now further opportunities internationally. Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healy and Sophie Molineux have all been picked up as marquee players in the draft.
Cricket’s newly announced maternity and pregnancy provisions are second to none in Australian sport, with players given 12 months paid maternity leave and a guaranteed contract extension the following season, as well as travel support for children up to four years old and a carer.
With no equivalent men’s team to draw comparisons with, women have always been at the top of the pecking order for netball. When considering the landscape of inequality in Australian sport as a whole, the focus on women for netball is essential.
While Australia’s netballers aren’t the highest earners on the international stage, with the Diamonds each pulling in approximately $30,000 if they take part in all international games in a season, they are part of Australia’s highest-paying domestic competition for women. The minimum wage in Suncorp Super Netball is $30,000 and the average player earns around $67,000. Sponsorship opportunities also allow for greater earning capacity and selected players act as ambassadors for national league and Diamonds’ sponsors. Diamonds players also receive small bonus payments for gold medals at the Netball World Cup or Commonwealth Games.
Netball also led the charge in establishing a pregnancy and maternity leave policy, with players entitled to 12 months’ paid maternity leave for players in contract and travel support for a child up to 12 months and a carer. Netballers also receive $1,635 per year in private health insurance and income protection for up to two years in the case of injury and pregnancy. The high-performance environment is at the leading edge for women’s team sports with wellbeing, education, nutrition, strength and conditioning and performance analysis all built into the programs.
A relative new kid on the block, the AFLW has just completed its own negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement. The new deal sees the minimum wage increase to $16,623 for Tier 4 players through to $29,856 for a Tier 1 player. However it pales in comparison with their male counterparts – a first-year rookie in the AFL has a minimum wage of $71,500.
With international matches not on the agenda, the earning capacity is limited to the short season in late summer and early autumn each year. While there are arguments that this short season is the reason for the significantly smaller salaries, players have continually pushed for longer seasons. The regular season will increase to 10 matches by 2022, with minimum wage increasing to $20,239 in that final year of the agreement.
The AFLW’s maternity and pregnancy policy allows for travel support for an infant and carer up to 12 months, or longer if a child is still breastfeeding, with the current contract to be paid in full during pregnancy.
Rugby union and rugby sevens
Australia’s women’s rugby sevens team made history in Rio, winning the first Olympic gold medal in the sport. They later made history when Rugby Australia made them full-time athletes, setting their minimum wage at $44,500 – equal to their male counterparts. Players are also entitled to 29% of national team generated revenue.
However in the longer version of the game, Super W players are covered for travel costs only, with no payment on the table. Wallaroos players receive a $1,000 match payment for each game they are named in the 23-player squad, as well as a $500 training payment. Super Rugby players, on the other hand, are guaranteed a minimum wage of $44,500 with the average earnings reported at around $218,000. Wallabies players receive between $10,000 and $12,000 per match and are entitled to bonus payments for reaching the final of a Rugby World Cup.
The recently established competition is still a small player compared to most other women’s sports. The contracting is more complicated, with 19 players granted elite contracts across the competition. These players are entitled to a significant share of the $750,000 pool for player wages. Players outside this group would likely earn approximately $8,500 per season. In comparison, the minimum wage for an NRL player in a club’s top 30 in 2020 is $110,000.
The recent World Cup Nines was a step towards equality, with all players at the tournament – male and female – taking home equal payments of $2,000. Jillaroos players receive a $3,000 match payment for each Test and took home a $4,000 bonus for winning the 2017 World Cup. The Kangaroos, meanwhile, take home a $20,000 match fee for each Test and received a $20,000 bonus for winning the World Cup in the same year.