Women’s Football in England = Slave Labor

On Thursday we read that women footballers were paid £40 per day for the five weeks they spent in China representing their country and reaching the quarter finals of the 2007 Women’s World Cup.

That’s £1400 for 5 weeks, £280 per week or to roughly convert that into dollars, around $3k / month.

To give you a better idea, Nemanja Vidic’s 1-week’s worth of wages (under his new contract) are more than the entire amount paid to the England women’s team for their China trip.

The BBC talks about ‘minimum wage’, the hardship suffered by the players who have to support themselves and their families by working overtime to cover for lost wages (setup an online business ladies, let me know if you need help), and the English FA’s stance that they’re pumping more money than ever and that standards will improve soon.

All that is well and good. However, read this (Alex Stone, representing the FA on women’s football):

“We’ve been actually conducting a strategic review of the women’s league since June this year and the findings will be presented to FA board in early 2008.

And one of the key issues to work on for the FA is to find out how we can make that product more attractive to sponsors, broadcasters and people who want to come in and watch the game.

Clearly we hope that the finances we might generate filter through to the players.

Women’s football has made a breakthrough but clearly there’s a long way to go and we know that which is why we’re working incredibly hard to try and change that status quo.”

Once you wade your way past the PR schlitz you read that the money for the players will come through sponsorships. This might seem reasonable until you read this (by the same person):

“The money that goes into women’s football each year from the FA is currently at an all-time high – it’s £4.5m.”

I think out of that money, they could have spent £3000 per person instead of £1400 per person during the World Cup. Double the money, in other words. Is that too difficult to manage? Channeling the funds so that your most precious resources – the current crop of players who are role models and flagbearers for the future generations – can earn decent wages is not rocket science, it’s efficient management.

The Beeb has tried to stay somewhat ‘impartial’ but they’ve picked the wrong time to do so – seeing the numbers, I don’t see how they cannot afford to at least immediately double wages (and why it wasn’t done before). Matching the Americans will take time, but right now the FA aren’t doing enough, and while it’s understandable that money is tight it’s not being used correctly just the same.

Let’s put it this way – If you offered me these wages for the high-intensity work that footballers must do, I’d piss on your grave. The fact that these players are willing to sacrifice personal well-being for the sake of their country says a lot – maybe it’s time that they were compensated for it?

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