New Zealand has taken a huge step when it comes to equality in sport.
The country’s chief footballing organisation, New Zealand Football, and the New Zealand Professional Footballers’ Association (NZPFA) have come to an agreement which will see international players representing the country paid equally.
Women will also receive equal prize money, equal rights for image use and notably, have the same travel benefits as their male counterparts.
As the New Zealand Herald notes, that allows female players to be flown business class on flights six hours or more when representing their country.
It’s an important benefit given much of the national team — dubbed the Football Ferns — compete in European or U.S. leagues, like captain Ali Riley, who plays for Swedish club FC Rosengård.
“The Football Ferns, who are ranked inside the top 20 in the world, are the flagship of women’s football in New Zealand. They are role models for the 30,000 female players throughout our country,” New Zealand Football chief executive, Andy Martin, said in a statement.
The men’s team, the All Whites, are 133rd in the world in the FIFA rankings. The move follows Norway, who signed an agreement last December to pay international female and male players the same wages when they represent the country.
There’s still some way to go when it comes to equality at club level. English club Lewes FC became the first professional or semi-professional team to have pay parity last year, while England’s Football Association pledged to reduce the gender pay gap among club staff.
One of the world’s highest paid footballers, Brazilian forward Neymar, will earn $44.6 million (37.4 million EUR) playing for French club Paris Saint Germain in the 2017-18 season alone.
It’s the equivalent salary of 1,693 female players across seven top leagues, as per a report by Sporting Intelligence last year.
And sure, while men’s leagues have long been established, attracting larger crowds and thus television deals, the report notes that for each professional women’s footballer, there are at least 106 men making a full-time living from the sport.
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