Because of a contract dispute between the Australian women’s national team and that country’s football federation, the team has decided not to play two matches this month in the United States. In essence, the players are on strike.
The 62,000 people who bought tickets for those games, in Detroit on Thursday (Sept. 17) and Birmingham, Ala., next Sunday (Sept. 20), instead will watch the American women steamroll Haiti, an international doormat that was tapped as a last-minute fill-in.
That’s sort of like buying a ticket to a Taylor Swift concert, only to find out days before the show that Carly Rae Jepsen will be headlining instead.
Still, at least two U.S. superstars and one former superstar are in solidarity with the Aussie women.
According to Fox Sports, Hope Solo said via Twitter that while she “will miss competing against their great team,” she’s “proud of their fight for what’s right!” Carli Lloyd praised the Matildas for “courageously fighting” for equitable pay for women athletes.
Under their collective bargaining agreement, the Matildas earn 21,000 Australian dollars ($14,475 American) a year. They’re seeking a raise to 40,000 Australian dollars ($28,000), but Football Federation Australia has refused to budge.
The federation says the relatively meager pay assumes that the women will play six months of the year. A hefty raise, it adds, just isn’t practical,
In addition to higher pay, the women want better training conditions and workplace protections like a pregnancy policy and basic health and safety standards.
Former U.S. captain Julie Foudy told ThinkProgress.com that the Australian dispute reminds her of battles that the U.S. women fought 20 years ago.
“We were having the same discussion in 1995 and 1996, saying, look we appreciate that you want us to train full time, but we can’t live on $10 a day,” she said.
A players’ strike “becomes your last resort,” Foudy said. “You don’t want to do it … but you get so frustrated by the fact that no one cares.”