In a recent survey of a quarter of the 128 W-League players were quizzed by The Women’s Game to find out if the players would consider switching codes, of those players quizzed around 70% of our top flight football players have said they would consider switching codes to the AFL with money being the major motivating factor.
Football (Soccer) being the first sport to set up a professional league for woman, but the money being majority with the AFL, this new Australian Rules competition would be a serious threat to the W-League as many of the players would already have the skillset to swap codes without many difficulties at all.
Warning signs are now showing within the W-League as the sport cannot rely on the players loyalty as this new Australian Rules completion offers Larger pay packets, more publicity, increased exposure and a strong career path with a top flight domestic competition.
The W-League has been going for several seasons and is a key breeding ground for future Matildas and Olympians.
Money is the biggest issue for top-level sportswomen, who have to make sacrifices in other parts in their lives to compete at the highest level. Many W-League clubs do not reach the $150,000-per-year salary cap.
The Women’s Game says: “AFL has already made a play for a number of Matildas players and, while they were largely unsuccessful, at the W-League level is where they could have success, and that is an issue for the governing body and member federations.
“AFL are already aware of this, with several players from the Melbourne clubs already approached and one player, Jenna McCormick, already committing to an AFL team for 2017.”
Emma Highwood, the FFA’s head of women’s football, community and development, recognises that financial issues are a major part of women’s sport but says that top-level soccer players had a much wider menu of possible career paths to follow than women playing in the AFL.
“We know that a lot of players have been approached this year but only two, Jenna McCormick and Brianna Davey, have said they will play (AFL) next year,” she said on Wednesday.
“What we have to offer as a sport is more than just a league. If you are a top player, you can play overseas in club football, internationally for the Matildas, there is the prospect of a World Cup or, as we have just seen, the Olympics.
I sit here stunned and amazed at the lack of financial support to our W-league who (as previously mentioned) is the breeding ground for our Matildas who are currently ranked 7th in the world (as stated FIFA.com) so how does a team who has broken through the top ten in world football still have to make such great sacrifices for the sports they love?
How bad is the pay gap you might be asking?
The Socceroos who are currently ranked 45th in the world are paid around $7500 per game, meanwhile The Matildas earn around $500 per game, it is staggering.
Talking about the W-League whose Salary cap is around 150k per season, some players earn round 10k per season while others earn nothing, let me say that word again, nothing. Meanwhile, The A-League whose salary cap is $2.60 million per season which a minimum of $2.340 million (Salary Floor) must be spent during the season on wages which would work out to be around 55k or more per player per season.
An unnamed source told the Herald Sun that conditions for most women’s players are appalling.
“It costs most girls to play in the W-League,’’ the source said.
Melbourne City sensationally broke the mould last year, investing hundreds of thousands into their women’s program to win the title in their first season.
City are believed to spend close to the full cap, with Canberra United and Perth Glory believed to be the only other teams who spend upwards of $100,000 on their squad The rest of the clubs are believed to languish somewhere around the $50,000 mark, which is the FFA’s annual dividend to W-League clubs.
Should we be asking for more from FFA to help the development and growth of the world game in Australia for woman? Yes.
Author: James Woodman // Twitter: @jameswoodman90 // Facebook: @jameswoodmanblogger