Matildas boycott pre-tour camp as pay row escalates

The Matildas have withdrawn from a camp ahead of their upcoming USA tour as the players' pay dispute continues to escalate.

The Matildas prepared for the camp, then left, after further talks with Football Federation Australia on Tuesday failed to secure a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Last week the Socceroos withdrew from all commercial and FFA-related activities causing the cancellation of a planned sponsorship events.

The FFA condemned the players' union, for disrupting the Matildas preparation and said the tour against the World Cup champions was now in doubt.

Neither coach Alen Stajcic nor the team management were informed of the action, the FFA added, accusing Professional Footballers Australia of blindsiding them with a raft of fresh demands. 

Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams said the FFA failed to "understand and respect what we have given to the game. We are simply asking FFA to do their bit so we can grow the game together."

The players were scheduled to attend a final training camp in Sydney ahead of Friday’s scheduled departure for two matches in the USA on September 17 and 20.

The PFA said the expiry of the Matildas CBA means the players are under no contractual obligation to undertake any national team-related activities.

"This decision has not been taken lightly, however the players feel they have been left with little option as the current proposal is simply unacceptable," PFA Chief Executive Adam Vivian said.

“FFA has failed to recognise the significant sacrifices the Matildas players are forced to make in playing for their country."

FFA chief David Gallop said the governing body entered talks in "good faith with the intention of finalising the CBA, based on assurances from the PFA’s leadership that the parties were not far apart.

“Instead, we were presented with a fresh set of demands that amount to millions of dollars of unfunded commitments.

“It’s sad that the Matildas have been dragged into a dispute that’s primarily about the A-League. The offer to the Matildas would basically double their pay over the next four years.

“Since talks began seven months ago, FFA and A-League club representatives have opened the books to show the PFA exactly what the game can afford and what is possible with an improved TV deal in 2017.

“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, with a guarantee of 30% of uplift in new TV revenue going straight to the salary cap.

“FFA will continue to pursue an agreement that’s sensible and protects the interests of the game, it’s time to reach agreement and stop the game-playing.”

Vivian said the FFA proposal would see the Matildas continue to be:

  • Unfairly remunerated for the work they undertake;
  • Denied access to a high performance environment, which dramatically reduces their ability to compete with the world’s best; and
  • Restricted in their ability to grow the women’s game.

“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,” Vivian said.

The Matildas' record-breaking feat at the Women’s World Cup in Canada, where they reached the quarter-finals, raised the profile of the women’s game in Australia and the gulf in wages between the men and women's national teams.

The FFA said the new demands included:

•             An immediate $1 million increase across 10 clubs in the Hyundai A-League salary cap for this season and further $2 million for the following season in 2016-17. This $3 million increase in payments would come directly from club finances ($300,000 per club).

•             An immediate pay rise of $1,000 per match for Socceroos, increasing the match fee from $6,500 to $7,500 per match. This represents an immediate 13% increase. FFA and PFA had previously agreed that increases in line with the CPI would be applied across the term.

•             Significant increases in spending on air travel, accommodation and benefits for Matildas players. FFA and PFA had previously agreed the priority for new funding for the Matildas would be devoted to an immediate 10% pay increase, with annual increases rising to 15% across the term of the CBA.

Williams said the players stood united in the action.

“This was an extremely difficult decision to make,” Williams said. “However it’s simply unfair to continue to expect us to make enormous sacrifices to play for Australia.

“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.

“This is about the future of Australian football. We want to establish football as the sport of choice for Australian women and we want to be one of the best nations in the world."

Williams added: “The players would like to thank the public for their longstanding support and encourage the Australian football community to back us in our fight to ensure the rights of female athletes are protected.”

Photo credit: (Main pic, Kevin Airs)