It is possible that when she goes for a walk through the streets of London, the city where she lives, there is not a single person who recognizes her and she can go completely unnoticed.
It is not the most popular player in the world of football, based on the number of followers on social networks, nor the best, according to awards such as the Ballon d’Or and The BEST.
On the other hand, what the Australian Sam Kerr can say is that she is currently the highest paid footballer in the world.
At least taking into account the salary he receives from Chelsea, his club, with which he is dominating English football in recent years.
However, what Kerr receives annually, US$513,000 according to various specialized sports media, would only be equivalent to a quarter of what Kylian Mbappé earns at PSG… per week.
A sign that, although women’s football has made significant progress in recent years, there is still a huge difference between women and men in the world of the ball.
This inequality is accentuated when taking into account the income that each other receives in sponsorships, associations with brands and personal businesses.
While Kerr’s earnings would barely exceed $2 million a year from contracts with companies such as Nike and EA Sports, for example, Mbappé’s would rise to $128 million, according to Forbes magazine this year.
Higher up would even appear Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldothe two great protagonists of soccer in the 21st century and who, despite being in the twilight of their careers, have won multimillion-dollar contracts for going to play in less competitive leagues such as the United States and Saudi Arabia, respectively.
In the case of Ronaldo, for example, it is stated that he receives more than US$200 million annually.
The fight for equal pay between men and women in soccer has advanced in recent years, driven by what has happened in the United States, where the women’s team has historically been much more successful than the men’s team.
Before winning their fourth World Cup in 2019, a group of 28 players from the national team filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer (the US soccer federation) for “institutionalized gender discrimination”.
Years of judicial litigation passed until in February 2022 a historic labor agreement was signed that guarantees the same payment for the members of the male and female teams.
Although the prizes in men’s tournaments are much higher, as we will see later, everything that men and women generate is put together in a pot and this is distributed equally among all the players of both teams.
Hence, the 23 soccer players who are representing the United States in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand would be guaranteed, even if they are eliminated in the first round, a greater prize than the one that the members of the team that remains champion on August 20 will receive. .
This despite taking into account the considerable increase that FIFA ordered for this tournament, in which US$110 million in prizes will be distributed, compared to US$30 million four years ago in the World Cup in France.
A significant increase, yes, but still well below the US$440 million that was awarded at the World Cup in Qatar last year.
FIFA assures that it is a process and that it is on its way to resolving these differences.
An example is that for the first time this year, part of the prizes is intended for the direct benefit of the players, since each one will receive at least US$30,000 for participating in the World Cup.
The number will increase as the teams manage to advance to the round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals, until reaching a maximum of US$270,000 for each of the champions.
Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, has already promised that the goal for the 2026 (men’s) and 2027 (women’s) World Cups is for there to be equal prize money.
FIFA welcomes the growth potential of women’s football, which would translate into a very good source of income for its coffers.
“Already in France in 2019 it was seen that women’s football offered a great opportunity”, recognized last week Romy Gai, commercial director of the governing body of soccer.
“That is why we made the decision to sell the (transmission) rights separately. The decision has been totally justified”, added Gai, referring to the fact that the tournament is being broadcast in more than 200 territories around the world.
As if that were not enough, the record for the number of tickets sold for the World Cup has already been broken, and FIFA estimates that some 2,000 million people will interact in some way with the tournament, double the number four years ago.
However, the feeling is that there is still a long way to go.
The case of the United States is the exception rather than the rule and very few countries are heading in a similar direction.
Just two days before the opening of the World Cup, the members of the Australian team issued a statement criticizing the disparity in prizes between the men’s and women’s World Cups and the fact that most countries do not have an organization that represents the group of female players to push for better working conditions.
Getty Images Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan were at the forefront of the fight for equal pay and conditions in soccer in the United States.
“We all want our players to be 100 per cent professional and that should be the legacy of this World Cup,” said Nick Garcia, commissioner of the Australian women’s soccer league.
“If we want to see a generational change, this is the moment in which all those involved, from commercial partners to governments, must commit to the growth of this sport,” he asked.
The director of the federation of that country, James Johnson, acknowledged that with regard to the increase in prizes by FIFA, this “does not reach what we have here in Australia, but it is an improvement and there is more room to continue improving.”
Starting from the bottom
For historian Brenda Elsey, from Hofstra University in New York, and author of the book “Soccer: A History of Women and Sports in Latin America,” the biggest barrier is not FIFA but the national federations.
“They are the ones that decide at the level of each country what is done and they are the ones that decide collectively with other countries the rules that are implemented in FIFA,” Elsey explained in an interview with BBC Mundo.
Despite FIFA’s promise to reward each of the 736 soccer players present at the World Cup, some players received the news with some skepticism that the money is really going to reach them.
The body has already informed that the payments will be made through the national federations and that it will supervise compliance with what was promised, but could not confirm when or how this process will be carried out.
Getty Images More and more women and girls are seen playing soccer, but they don’t always have the support they need to do it in a formal way.
Elsey believes that the challenge facing women’s football is to establish a solid base of conditions from which it can build its future, which could be that of a “billion dollar” industry, according to a recent study published in England.
One example was the difficulties we had in finding information on what the world’s highest-paid female players earn, as opposed to the extensive documentation that exists on the salaries of their male peers.
“It’s hard because for the majority the type of remuneration does not classify as salary. They are fees, they are informal things”, the historian told us.
“That is the biggest labor challenge, because it goes beyond paying more. Even those who are paid more are done informally, so it is difficult to fight for equal conditions if legally it is not even a job as such ”, he concluded.
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