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It’s time for equal pay: Women footballers call on industry to ‘get to work’

Readers Lounge By AFP and Audrey Masitsa
USA football star Megan Rapinoe, who won the Golden Boot at this year's Women's World Cup (Photo: Instagram @mrapinoe)

In an interview after her team won its fourth trophy in the Women’s World Cup, USA football star Megan Rapinoe said it was "time to sit down and get to work". This was after hearing American fans greet the team's victory over the Netherlands in the final on Sunday with chants calling for equal pay.

Rapinoe has been a key player in the squad's battle for pay equality which led them to file a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation earlier this year accusing the organisation of gender discrimination.

Team USA who emerged the winners of the Women's World Cup 2019 (Photo: Instagram @mrapinoe)

The call for equal pay has been a long and tedious one. Female footballers are disproportionately underpaid as compared to their male counterparts.

According to Inside the Games, FIFA set aside $30 million (Sh3.07 billion) as overall prize money for the Women’s World Cup 2019 and $400 million for the men’s tournament which took place last year.

Of this, the winners were to take home $4 million (Sh400 million). This is in sharp contrast with what the men’s team took home in 2018. France, the winners of the 2018 World Cup, took home $38 million (Sh3.9 billion).

Apart from the world championships, there is also a big disparity in the funds set aside for the football teams to prepare for the competition and as compensation for the release of players. The men’s teams get $48 million (Sh4.9 billion) and $209 million (Sh21.3 billion) while the women’s teams get $11.5 million (Sh1.2 billion) and $8.4 million (Sh856 million) for preparations and compensation respectively.

When put on the spot about these disparities, FIFA defended itself claiming that the two tournaments brought in different amounts of revenues hence the difference in allocations.

"We have such a strong and proud and defiant group of women, I don't think we really have anything to say," said Rapinoe.

Fans joined the call for equal pay for female footballers (Photo: Instagram @mrapinoe)

Rapinoe has been the biggest star on the field over the last month in France, and she scored the opener from the penalty spot as the holders beat the Dutch 2-0 in Lyon to retain their title.

It was the 34-year-old's sixth goal of the competition, allowing her to walk away with the Golden Boot for the top scorer as well as the Golden Ball for the player of the tournament.

"Everyone is kind of asking what's next and what we want to come of all of this, and it's to stop having the conversation about equal pay and are we worth it," Rapinoe said.

"What are we going to do about it? It's time to sit down with everyone and get to work," she said, mentioning FIFA president Gianni Infantino as well as US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro.

"This game has done so much for all of us, we've put so much into it. I think it's a testament to the quality on the field, I don't think everything else is matching that."

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