Chelsea star Pernille Harder says the battle for equality in football needs to focus on facilities and opportunities rather than salaries.
The Dane, voted the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year for 2020, joined the Blues for a reported world record fee from German side Wolfsburg last September, strengthening the Londoners’ credentials as Champions League contenders.
She accepts equality in football does not mean women earning the same as men at the top level, but that the facilities at the top end should be equal, as should opportunities to join youth academies.
“The question of equal pay and equal salaries, it will take a while, even if it will ever be the same. Men’s football is just on another level I think,” she told the PA news agency.
“Girls have to fight to find places where they can get good training and get good coaches. It’s not really there for them. I think that’s the biggest issue, for girls to be able to get to a really good academy and access the best coaches at an early age.
“I can personally say it was my mum who coached me until I was maybe 14, and nothing against my mum (but) I think there would be better coaches!
“Already at that age you can actually learn a lot. Then further on there is still a big difference between how we have it and how men’s teams have it. That’s what we have to focus on.
Harder made favourable comparisons between the facilities at Chelsea compared to what she had experienced at 2020 Champions League finalists Wolfsburg, but admitted even there she had seen differences.
“It’s very professional at Chelsea and I think they try to copy how the men are doing it,” she said.
“It’s just the difference that we might have three physios, and they have maybe 15, and we have two pitches and they have 10. So that’s maybe the biggest difference. The set-up is really good, but again it’s still not equal.”
Harder has also shared her views on the issue of equality in the women’s game in the latest edition of ‘The Football Podcast’ from UEFA Together #WePlayStrong which is available now.
She was part of the Denmark squad which was involved in a pay dispute with the national federation which led to the cancellation of a World Cup qualifier in 2017.
As well as her advocacy of greater opportunities for girls, Harder’s salary sacrifice through the Common Goal project supports PlayProud, a coaching project which aims to make grassroots football more inclusive for the LGBTQ+ community.
Asked what the obstacles were, she added: “It is that maybe you don’t feel that you can be yourself in some areas.
“PlayProud educate coaches to create an environment where everyone can be themselves, no matter what their sexuality or race and that’s important because there might be a lot of good footballers who don’t feel comfortable in the environment they’re in, and I think you especially see that on the men’s side.”
Harder, who is in a relationship with Chelsea team-mate Magdalena Eriksson, believes attitudes to homosexuality have changed dramatically in recent years and will continue to in the years ahead.
“The next generation has a new view on sexuality, it’s much more integrated in society in today than it was 10 years ago, so for the next generation it will be different. I hope so at least.”
:: People can listen to the UEFA podcast on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/1GqryNBIyVco3Da3afmhGJ
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