W-League footballers forced to pay to play

W-League clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory in January.
October 10, 2016

In a dramatic depiction of the vast differences in resources and respect between men’s and women’s sport, a report by the Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has laid bare the woeful pay and conditions for W-League football (soccer) players.

AAP reported on September 23 that he report by the PFA, the union representing Australian footballers, surveyed almost two-thirds of W-League players last season. The report suggests players could walk away from the game because of the financial strain.

The report indicated nine out of 10 players said they would consider leaving the sport early to pursue more lucrative opportunities.

AAP said: “That is understandable when a quarter of W-League players were paid less than $500 for the 16-week season, and 10 per cent weren't paid at all.

“With an average cost of $2237 worn by each W-League player to play in the league, it’s likely more players than not were out of pocket for their participation. Only 15 per cent earned more than $5000 for the past season, which equates to $312 a week without factoring in pre-season training.”

With the report adding to pressure on the Football Federation Australia (FFA) to improve conditions for women footballers, AAP pointed out: “The AFL has instituted a $5000 minimum payment for the inaugural AFL Women’s season, which will be run over eight weeks in February and March 2017.”

The report comes amid the establishment of a new W-League Working Party by the FFA and PFA. AAP said the committee will look at the league’s structure and format as well as club infrastructure and player conditions.

PFA chief executive John Didulica said the report showed, “The players are willing to go above and beyond to make their competition a success”.

“This research has been tabled with FFA and will be invaluable in assisting the W-League Working Party to identify the immediate priorities that need to be addressed to ensure the Westfield W-League can prosper.”

The working party’s agenda includes issues such as a collective bargaining agreement, minimum player payments and minimum medical conditions.

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