The Matildas Strike Out At FFA Pay Deal Talks
Three months since becoming the first Australian side to win a knock-out match at a World Cup, the Matildas are in crisis after a major breakdown in player pay talks.
The Matildas have abandoned a Sydney-based training camp which was to begin on Tuesday, throwing doubt over a two-match series with world champions United States next week.
The unprecedented action comes after a climactic day in Sydney.
Matildas and their representatives from Professional Footballers Australia met with Football Federation Australia (FFA) in the city, while coach Alen Stajcic readied the training cones for a team that never arrived.
The World Cup quarter-finalists then gathered outside FFA offices to protest what they saw as their unrecognised efforts for the national side.
Goalkeeper and senior figure Lydia Williams said the decision was "extremely difficult" but necessary, to make FFA take their claims seriously.
"It's simply unfair to continue to expect us to make enormous sacrifices to play for Australia," Williams said.
"For the past two months the players have been unpaid and have made every attempt to reach an agreement that gives the women's game a platform for growth."
Stajcic is understood to be shattered at the development.
Players and fans have taken to social media with their messages of support for the women.
Speaking to Matildas players, they revealed they're hurt, offended and feel 'bullied' by FFA's conduct during negotiations today.— Lucy Zelic (@LucyZelic) September 8, 2015
Thing is the Matildas are right when it comes to better pay, full professionalism needed to be a world class team— Ann Odong (@AnnOdong) September 8, 2015
He left the talking to FFA chief executive David Gallop, after his Socceroos counterpart Ange Postecoglou was forced into a public back-down for suggesting the ongoing CBA negotiations were unwelcome while his team was in camp.
"Today FFA entered the talks in good faith with the intention of finalising the CBA, based on assurances from the PFAs leadership that the parties were not far apart," Gallop said.
"Instead, we were presented with a fresh set of demands that amount to millions of dollars of unfunded commitments.
"The new demands are simply not affordable and the PFA knows it. The deal put on the table by FFA represents the best pay and conditions ever presented to Australian footballers."
A PFA spokesperson rejected the notion they tabled new demands on Tuesday.
PFA chief executive Adam Vivian said the breakdown came down to three factors; a lower than expected pay offer, lack of access to a "high performance environment" and a restriction in the Matildas "ability to grow the women's game".
"FFA has failed to recognise the significant sacrifices the Matildas players are forced to make in playing for their country," Vivian said.
"The players have sought to have their contribution to the game respected.
"The current proposal from FFA highlights their unwillingness to meaningfully address the core issues."
Each Matilda is paid $21,000 annually, with bonuses for time spent in camp, matches and tournament performance.
In 2015, those bonuses will have taken pay for some players to triple their base pay.
A number of players have left Sydney and without a training camp, it's unclear whether the team will travel to the US for two matches in Detroit and Birmingham.
The meetings with the world champions are seen as crucial preparation for the Matildas' next competitive matches - an Olympics qualifying tournament scheduled in Japan for next February.
The Matildas' action follows the Socceroos declining to partake in commercial activities while in camp, in Perth last week.
The Matildas that played in the year leading up to their World Cup quarter-final, would have earned up to $65,000.
At the moment, the Matildas earn:
- $500 per standard international game
- $500 per group-stage tournament game
- $600 per round of 16-tournament game
- $750 per tournament quarter-final
- $1250 per tournament semi-final or third or fourth-place playoff
- $1500 per tournament final
They also get an equal share in 30% of all prizemoney.