The fight for equal pay for women and men is progressing, but only very slowly

On the occasion of the start of the European Championship on July 6 in England, we offer you a series of articles on the topic of women’s football. This Thursday, the fourth part is dedicated to the sensitive issue of equal pay, the development of which still varies greatly from country to country.

Watch the first episode: “We have everything to be successful,” assures Clara Matéo, the French team’s Swiss army knife

The second : Why are there so few coaches in women’s football?

And the third: Where does French women’s football stand three years after the World Cup in France?

A strange paradox, since the United States knows how to serve us. As American women face the threat of obscurantism materialized by the Supreme Court’s repeal of abortion rights, American star Megan Rapinoe savors the fruit of a long feminist struggle: that of equal pay for American soccer players. “We play knowing we’re going to win more,” said the Ballon d’Or 2019 at the opening of an international tournament involving the USA in Monterrey, Mexico. “We will set the pace for the next generations, for players from other countries. We are very proud, it took a lot of work to get there. »

In February, a group of women players led by Rapinoe received a promise from their federation that they would be paid the same as their male counterparts. “US Soccer is committed to paying equal pay for the women’s and men’s national teams at all friendly matches and tournaments, including the World Cup, from now on,” the federation wrote last winter. The deal totals $24 million, of which $22 million will be distributed through a mode proposed by the women’s national team players. The United States is thus taking over the train started by Norway in 2017, which had already been joined by Brazil, England, New Zealand and Australia.

The Women’s Euro 2022, which begins this Wednesday, also marks a new era for Spanish football. This competition is the first in which female players receive as many bonuses and image rights as their male counterparts. The agreement signed in June has its limits, in this case an expiration date (2027). That didn’t stop Irene Paredes, one of the three signatories, from congratulating herself. “It’s a historic day. […] We signed a five-year contract that will allow us to reach the next World and European Championships and hopefully the Olympics. We have to promote women’s sport, we are striving to bridge the gap to men’s sport. »

And in France, when is it?

Asked about the issue of equal pay for women and men in the deal between US soccer players and American players, Wendie Renard does not feel justified in demanding such a privilege for France internationals. “We know that American football is way ahead of European football because football is really the number one sport there. In fact, there is no photo, argued the French defender. Today they have titles, they have a track record, so they can afford to have this fight with their federation. They are very popular in the media, while this is rarely the case with national teams in Europe. You have to keep working to win. And when you win, you have more power to ask for things. »

It should be noted that national federations are not the only guarantors or gravediggers of equal pay. For Euro 2022 and according to the newspaper The team, UEFA plans to pay the winning team €2.08 million, a figure much lower than the €28.5 million the Italian European champions received last summer. And if the FFF played the equality card by promising to donate 30% of UEFA’s total funds to female players and technical staff, it’s still a long way from the same percentage as for boys, i.e. that much equity. Which Corinne Deacon doesn’t seem to care about. “UEFA’s allocations only concern the president of the association and the finance department. In any case, I can assure you from our side that we have everything we need to prepare well. »

The euro profit is not enough to cover the costs

The problem is there. Ensuring the proper functioning of female selection comes at a loss. The vice-president of the FFF, Philippe Diallo, pointed out that the sums pledged for the French women’s team at the Euro would not be covered even in the event of a title. The participation of the Bleues in the tournament is estimated at 2.9 million euros and Diallo specified during a general assembly of the 3F that a elimination in the quarterfinals would mean “a loss of 1.6 million euros for the federation. In this competition, even if you win athletically, you don’t win economically.”

“I know it’s a balance, Soraya Belkadi, coach of Montauban (D2), tells us, but for me there should be a bigger gesture for the women of the FFF, why not with a budget more important for these competitions. We must try to fight at the level of the spheres above the federations. Yes, the federation will pay fairly for the share it repays, but that doesn’t apply to equal efforts. The FFF thus has a complicated position. »

Very unequal working conditions

Finally, there remains the material aspect of the fight for gender equality in football. Ada Hegerberg gave a yellow laugh at the announcement of France’s candidacy to organize Euro 2025 if the funds invested in women’s football remain ridiculous. In her opinion, the players’ working conditions remain very perfect and their status very often precarious. “There’s a lot of work to be done professionally because some have to work on the side,” she said in an interview with SoFoot, in 2021. We must create the best conditions to develop our sport. » Wendie Renard : « What is particularly interesting is not equality. These are already the structures. I say it often but the structures in the clubs and daily life (are the most important). […] This is going well in Europe and we will move towards that equality in the coming years and that is normal because I think we deserve it too. »

Speaking of Ada Hegerberg, the Lyonnaise had cemented her superstar status by signing a ten-year, €1m deal with Nike in 2020. For comparison, the advertising revenue of Cristiano Ronaldo, the highest paid footballer of the past year forbes, totaled approximately $55 million. Which puts Rapinoe and her teammates’ microscopic victory into perspective in a never-ending ocean of disparities.

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