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Fran Kirby: We need to win the World Cup before we can talk about equal pay for Englands women and men
Fran Kirby says we have to grow the womens game before pay parity between the England mens and womens senior teams for international games is achievable
The England Women striker Fran Kirby believes the countrys female players need to win the World Cup before they can entertain discussions about equal pay with male footballers.
The issue of equal pay for male and female players has waged since footballers on the US womens national team signed a lawsuit accusing the US Soccer Federation of gender discrimination. 28 players have alleged that the mens side can earn up to $8,000 (6,300) more per game despite their comparatively limited success: the US Womens National team have won three World Cups, while the men did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Since 2007, Englands male players have donated their wages for international games to various charities.
Ultimately, we need to grow the womens game, Kirby said. Thats the biggest issue – it always has been. Then you can talk about equal pay and everything else.
Ultimately we are doing the same job as the men, but I understand that were not filling out stadiums. That makes it difficult to have that argument. As the womens game improves and progresses, then theyre the conversations we can start to have.
The USA are in dispute at the moment but theyre selling out arenas, theyve won the World Cup and have some of the best players in the world in their team. Theyre in a position to do that.
We need to win the World Cup to have a leg to stand on in those situations. But if we keep selling out stadiums like we are, improving the game on and off the pitch, those arguments can start to creep in. I still think we need to build at a rate that makes the game improve and improve.
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Kirby, 25, became one of the most recognisable faces in the womens game after the previous England manager, Mark Sampson, dubbed her the mini Messi at the 2015 World Cup. She subsequently moved from Reading, then in the second tier, to Chelsea, and in 2018 was crowned the PFA Players Player of the Year and the Football Writers Womens Footballer of the Year for the 201718 season. A string of injuries have stunted her form at club-level this season but Kirby now insists she is probably in the best shape I have been all year and is playing football pain-free.
While reluctant to lobby for equal pay, Kirby does believe female players must stop promoting products for free if they are to help future generations of women. A late bloomer, Kirby was rarely involved for England at youth level and signed her first sponsorship deal, with Nike, as a senior player.
Soccer Football – England Womens Media Day – St. Georges Park, Burton upon Trent, Britain – May 23, 2019 Englands Fran Kirby during the media day Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
The girls are now getting sent things, she said. A few years ago the girls all had to buy their own boots. It wasnt a case of Nike dropping in boxes all the time. We had a new pair of socks on our pegs today and it was, Look at these – theyre amazing. Were still so humbled and excited when people want to help us. That just shows the character in this group – that we still get excited by a pair of pretty socks. We appreciate that very much.
I want to pave the path as much as possible for the younger girls coming through. We need to get to the stage where we dont turn around and say, Yeah – Ill do this four-hour film for you and not get paid for it. Thats not helping the younger girls coming up.
If one player says yes to it and another doesnt, thats a difficult conversation to have. For me, I want to put football in the best possible way, where the girls play professionally, get the sponsorships they deserve and set themselves up after football so that theyre not struggling and asking themselves what theyre going to do. Thats what all of us want, why were getting involved in so many campaigns – we want to leave football in a better place than when we came into it.
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