The Matildas this past week have put their game, reputation and futures on the line. Sportette’s message to the FFA and the PFA is, please don’t let it be all for nothing.
Firstly to the FFA – you should have seen this coming.
It had been building for some time.
Your female players have sat quietly and patiently for a long time – but they weren’t going to put up with such bad conditions and pay forever.
You say there’s not enough money generated by the Matildas to justify a large pay increase, but what have you done to ensure viable revenue streams are developed from the women’s game?
Answer: not enough.
Promotion is key to building these streams, yet the promotion of the Matildas by the FFA has been grossly inadequate. Heading into this year’s World Cup the Matildas were ranked 10th in the world, yet a month out from the event few people even knew the World Cup was on. We saw unprecedented support for the Matildas as the Cup started and the deeper into the tournament they qualified, which is a sure indication of the appetite the public and media have for the women’s game. Yet in the weeks and months leading into the tournament the FFA failed to capitalise on this interest.
The promotion of the Matildas by the FFA has been grossly inadequate
It’s easy to blame the media for not reporting on the team, but when they’re not informed of the team’s movements, or when the Matildas camps and games are closed to the public, it becomes difficult for the media to keep knocking on their door when there are other sports’ doors opening elsewhere.
It’s unbelievable then to think that the Matildas still play a large number of their games behind closed doors. International friendlies in empty stadiums. No fans no fanfare, just silent seats in echoing stadiums. The FFA argues the cost to fill the stadiums is too great to justify having the public attend more of their matches as they would have to organise lights, security, services etc. But there are women and little girls alike who love the sport, who would love to watch the Matildas live in action. Hit up schools, junior clubs, approach the media for stories leading into the match. Is it too expensive to open the games? Or is it too much effort to get people there?
The PFA (Professional Footballers Association) also has a responsibility to the Matildas to ensure the boycott of the USA tour wasn’t in vain. The Australian girls had the chance to play the world champions in America, at sold out stadiums (over 60,000 tickets had already been sold), months out from the start of their first Olympic qualifier. The PFA advised the girls to strike, effectively abandoning the tour, after talks between the PFA and FFA over the CBA for not just the Matildas but the Socceroos and A-League broke down.
The Matildas CBA is tied in with the Socceroos and A-League players but so far the Matildas are the only players who have taken drastic action. The Socceroos boycotted a sponsor event (a fan signing at a shopping centre) but still played their World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Tajikistan, while the A-League players have, so far, been quiet on the issue.
Don’t let the Matildas be the scapegoat for the rest of the male players when they are asking the least from the FFA out of all the parties.
PFA don’t let the Matildas be the scapegoat for the rest of the male players when they are asking the least from the FFA out of all the parties. The USA tour would have provided great exposure for the players to an American audience, and scouts and would have been ideal preparation ahead of the Olympic qualifiers given the Matildas haven’t made it to the Olympics since 2004. They gave up a lot to fight for a better deal for all of Australian players. The increase alone you’re asking for the Socceroos in their match payments (from $6500 to $7500) is double the whole amount of the Matildas match payment ($500). The PFA must now prove that it hasn’t been reckless in its boycott of the Matildas tour. Are the Socceroos prepared to stand up for the Matildas in this same way? What would they sacrifice to see the Women’s team is compensated fairly?
One thing both the FFA and PFA can agree on is that they both can do more to support the women’s game. The Matildas have stuck their necks out here, don’t let it all be for nothing.
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