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The Brazilian Football Confederation announced a few days ago that they’ll be paying their men and women footballers equally when they represented their country. We look at why this is a watershed moment for the wage parity movement.

The Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF) announced a few days ago that they’ll be paying their men and women football players equally while on international duty. This included their regular wages and any potential bonuses. 

The CBF has had a turbulent time with its women contingent recently. They faced a revolt from their football stars back in 2017 when they fired the then-first team coach Emily Lima. Many female footballers openly aired their disregard for the CBF and their treatment of women. This struggle for even a semblance of egalitarian recognition just three years ago makes CBF’s latest announcement even more of a headline.

The movement of equal pay for both men’s and women’s teams was started by Norway back in 2017, when they became the first nation to announce same wages for both of their contingents. Since then, the likes of Finland, Australia, and New Zealand have joined the small-but-growing list of countries to follow suit in the same direction. The Dutch Football Association recently announced an attempt to equalise the game between the two gender groups by beginning to pay their women footballers the same wages as their male counterparts from 2023. The English FA announced a few months ago that they had joined in on the bandwagon too.

Women’s football for long has either been ignored altogether or often presented as a ‘smaller sibling’ version of the ‘main’ men’s game. A lot of excuses have been thrown over the years for countries not having a strong women’s team – from not enough interest and investment to downright sexist claims of “women aren’t just good enough, are they?” As the popularity of the men’s game is percolating into the women’s side as well, the attempt of various countries’ FAs to pay both of their teams equally is a small, yet vital step in setting a precedent for an equal game.

With the list of countries promoting equal pay increasing ever so gradually, it makes all the more disappointing the fact that the US women’s national team (USWNT) – the current two-time World Cup winners and arguably the best squad in the world – are not given the same regard by their country. The USWNT players decided to take their Soccer Federation to court earlier this year to demand equal pay. This notion was dismissed by the United States District Court for the Central District of California earlier this year. They currently await trial for their remaining claims, including unfair medical services, travel, and training compared to their male counterparts. This treatment of the world’s best women’s team does bring into the light various systemic and institutional biases women face daily, purely based on their gender.

The movement for equal pay is a gradual process that will, in time, feature most countries across the globe. Advocating the opinions towards its fulfillment is the bare minimum we can do to hope to see parity in all sectors within the game and society.

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