On Wednesday 6 November, it was announced that the Football Federation of Australia (FFA) reached a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with its elite players, both male and female. This landmark deal, as a major milestone for gender equity in sport, announced that men and women will have equal shares of revenue generated and prizemoney.
This landmark deal is the first sign in Australia of reaching towards true gender equity in sport, as it ensures that male and female football players will receive equal entitlements to pay and facilities, and the same opportunities to make a professional career. Many of the Matildas’ players have been publicly supportive of the new deal and expressed excitement at the prospect of equity within Australian football.
There are suggestions this deal will allow more female professional athletes to secure their financial futures from their football careers, something that has not previously been an option. On top of the financial implications, it was also announced that the new CBA would have improved parental leave policies, and consideration for women taking time out of their careers for pregnancy, and then returning to the national team. The FFA Parental Leave Policy is monumental, as it recognises one of the major challenges for female professional athletes, juggling familial and professional desires, and making the process easier is a significant step.
The news breaks just days after it was announced that Ash Barty, Australian tennis player and women’s world No 1 ranked player won the season-ending WTA playoff, and with it, the richest prize in women’s tennis history. It takes her annual earnings ahead of the leading men in terms of prize money and indicates that there is a huge push towards parity in tennis as well.
The excitement continued close to home after it was announced that the AFLW and AFLPA had reached a new CBA for the 2020 Season, with the total amount payed out to players to more than double over the lifetime for the 4-year agreement. It was a bitter negotiation, but one that ended with the positive news that the Women’s competition will continue to expand and improve over the lifetime of the deal, as well as ensure the stability of the competition for further investment at a grassroots and professional level.
After a significant week, it is clear that there is a way to go with Australian sport and gender equity, but these recent events indicate clearly that things are moving in the right direction, and that true equality is no longer a pipe dream, but something that can become a reality.