Australia's top women soccer players will now earn the same as their male counterparts after a landmark deal Wednesday that aimed to close the gender pay gap between the country's national teams.
The women's Westfield Matildas and the men's Caltex Socceroos will also share an equal split of all commercial revenues. Previously, the Socceroos earned a greater share of revenues generated by the team and were paid more to play.
The Matildas will also be allowed to travel business class for international travel, as the men do, and coaching and operational support will be brought to the same standard as the men's team.
The wide-ranging, four-year deal, called the Collective Bargaining Agreement, was struck Wednesday between soccer governing body Football Federation Australia (FFA) and the players' union, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA).
"Football is the game for everyone, and this new CBA is another huge step toward ensuring that we live the values of equality, inclusivity and opportunity," said FFA Chairman Chris Nikou in a statement.
"This is truly a unique agreement. Every national team, from the Socceroos and Matildas, down to the Youth National Teams as well as the Cerebral Palsy National Teams have been contemplated in this new CBA."
Gender pay gap in soccer
In March, the US women's soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, alleging US Soccer's payment practices amount to federal discrimination by paying women less than men "for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games." A trial is set for May.
In 2015, the Australian women's team canceled a sell-out tour of the US amid a dispute with the FFA over their pay, which the players said was so low it was illegal.
Under the new Australian arrangement, the Matildas and Soceroos would receive a 24% share of an agreed aggregate of revenues generated by the National Team in 2019-20, rising by 1% each year.
Within that, 5% will go to reinvesting in Australian Youth National Teams.
"For the first time, player remuneration will be directly tied to the revenues generated by our National Teams -- this will create a sustainable financial model that incentivises players and FFA to collaborate and grow the commercial pie together," Nikou said.
The Matildas will have a new three-tiered centralized contract system that ensures Australia's top women's players earn the same as the men's Tier 1 players.
Players will also receive an increase share of prize money on qualifying for a FIFA World Cup -- they'll now be entitled to 40% up from 30%, rising to 50% if they reach the knockout rounds.
The men's team will still be able to earn more overall in prize money, however, as the World Cup rewards are much higher for the men's game. The total prize pool for the 2018 men's World Cup stood at $400 million, while the 2019 Women's World Cup in France was about $30 million.
The deal also includes reviewing the FFA's parental leave policy, to ensure women playing for the national team are supported during pregnancy and on their return.
Midfielder for the Matildas Elise Kellond-Knight said at a press conference announcing the deal Wednesday, "As a female footballer it's what we've always dreamed of. We always wanted to be treated equally."
"The new CBA shows signs of respect -- we are going to be completely included. Having these facilities that the men have been exposed to will set us up for success."