It is an odd thing to imagine footballers going on strike, refusing even to train, on the grounds that they don’t get any financial support from the league, however this is exactly the situation that may arise with the Irish women’s national team. For some time now the players have been complaining that the Football Association of Ireland does not take their efforts seriously and does not compensate them for international games or training camps, and the team are now preparing to meet with the FAI to discuss their playing conditions under threat of a full strike if the changes they want are not agreed to.
Growth of the Women’s Game
Women’s football is without a doubt a long way behind the men’s game, with the possible exception being in North America, where ‘soccer’ is a sport often played by girls in school and the women’s team, who won the last women’s world cup, enjoy some degree of celebrity status as well as in most cases enough of an income from the sport and sponsorship to play professionally and not have to balance this with a job. However, while in Europe this certainly isn’t the case, there has been growth in interest in women’s soccer, and in tournaments like the women’s European and world cups, as well as in the Olympic games – more people are watching these events, betting on them with PaddyPower betting by thebookiesoffers, and women’s teams are even featured in the EA FIFA video games now.
For Ireland to be able to enjoy having its team put up a good show in these competitions, it seems the FAI will need to start addressing some of our women’s national team’s concerns, which, when you look at them, do seem fairly small asks from part time athletes who give their all to represent their country against women from other countries who enjoy far more support.
What Are the Women’s Team’s Concerns?
Emma Byrne, who is the captain of the ROI women’s national team, has stated that some players have had to quit the team and the sport due to the fact there is no compensation for them when they are expected to take time off of their regular jobs to travel to train and play as part of their international duties. Some have to use up all of their leave from work to play, and others have to take time out from their jobs unpaid, with no remuneration from the FAI. She is quoted as saying the team feel as though the FAI regards them as ‘dirt on their shoe’, and are only interested in the more lucrative men’s game.
Byrne and the other players are asking to receive a mere 150 euro fee for every match they win, or 75 for a draw. They would also like to have team clothing provided, and be given gym memberships. With reports of the players sometimes having to get ready for games by changing in public bathrooms, as well as both losing income and having to spend their own money on being part of the team, it seems that the women who represent Ireland in football do have some good reasons to want to discuss their conditions with the association, and even to threaten to stop training altogether.
These do not seem like extravagant demands, and nobody would normally expect people who represent their country in any sport to have to pay for their own kit and use of training facilities if they are playing unpaid, however it remains to be seen how the FAI will respond.
Here is some additional info on training with some helpful tips – click here
Image Credit: RTE.ie