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AfterWorldCupsuccess,Australiastoodforbetter

wages
AP

4:01a.m.EDTJuly30,2016

LongbeforetheU.S.women'ssoccerteamfiledafederalcomplaintoverwagediscrimination,theAustralian
womenfoughtforbetterpay.
Andwon.
TheMatildas,astheyareknown,willbeamongthe12women'ssoccerteamsplayinginBrazilnextweek
whentheOlympicsgetunderway.Theirstrikefollowingasuccessfulruninlastsummer'sWomen'sWorld
(Photo:TheAssociatedPress)

CupinCanadawassignificantasfemaleathletesacrosssportsfightforrecognitionandrespectincluding
theirAmericancounterparts.

"Intermsofbeingtrailblazers,I'mnotreallysure.Ithinkwejustsortofwentaboutithowwethoughtwasnecessary,"AustraliandefenderSteph
Catleysaid."Wefeltwedeservedmore."
TheMatildashavemadeaquickascentasoneoftheworld'seliteteams.Theygainednationalattentionlastyearwhentheybecamethefirstteam
fromAustraliamaleorfemaletowinaWorldCupknockoutroundmatchbyupsettingBrazil10andadvancingtothequarterfinals.
TheUnitedStateswentontowintheWorldCupwitha52victoryoverJapaninthefinal.
Afterward,theU.S.womenscheduledapairofexhibitionmatchesagainstAustraliaaspartofavictorytour.ButtheAustralianfederationwithdrew
fromthosematchesaftertheMatildaswalkedoutoftrainingcampandtheplayers'unionsaidcontracttalkswiththenationalfederationhadstalled.
TheMatildas,whosecontracthadexpired,saidtheyhadnotbeenpaidfortwomonthsheadingintothewalkout.
Thesalaryforanationalteamplayerwasequivalentto$14,475,basedonasixmonthplayingperiod.Thatmeantmanyoftheplayersneededto
haveotherjobstomakeendsmeet.Someplayersworkedtwoclubseasons,oneathomeinAustraliaandtheotherintheUnitedStateswiththe
NationalWomen'sSoccerLeague,meaningtheyplayedyearround.
Theplayerswereaskingforasalaryhiketo$28,000ayear,aswellasotherbenefitsincludingimprovedaccommodationsandbonusesfor
internationalmatches.Thedemandswerepartoflargerbargainingthatincludedthemen'snationalteamandALeagueplayers,andtheFootball
FederationAustraliaatonepointclaimedtheMatildaswerebeingusedasapawninthenegotiations.
Buttherewasagroundswellofsupportforthewomen,whohaveseentheirpopularityriseinAustraliaalongwiththeteam'sstatureonthenational
stage.
AmericanstarsHopeSoloandCarliLloyd,formerplayerJulieFoudy,andCanadianforwardChristineSinclairwereamongthosewhoexpressed
supportfortheAustralians.Therewerechange.orgpetitionstosupporttheteam.
"TheMatildasarecourageouslyfightingforwhatisright.(hashtag)priclessrolemodels,"LloydpostedtoTwitter.
ThedealthatwaseventuallystruckinNovemberincludedapaystructurethatputsthesalariesfortopplayersat$30,700peryearandthoseatthe
nextlevelat$22,400.Thecontractcallsfora10percentraiseeachyearandimprovedbonusesandotherbenefits.
"Ourelitefemaleplayersdeserveafulltimeprofessionalcareerpathinfootballandthisagreementrepresentsasolidfoundationwecanbuildon,"
players'associationchiefexecutiveAdamViviansaidatthetime.
StrikerKyahSimonsaidthemovemadetheteamstronger.
"TheMatildas'storyisstandingupforwhatwebelieveinandstandingupforourbrandandourculture.Ithinkattheendofthedayitbroughtthe
teamclosertogether,"Simonsaid."It'ssomethingwecanlookonwithpride,andsomethingthat'shopefullyapositivefutureforoursportandforthe
newgenerationofplayers."
ThevictorycamewellbeforeagroupofU.S.women'snationalteamplayersfiledacomplaintwiththefederalEqualEmploymentOpportunity
Commissionallegingwagediscrimination.Thewomenclaimtheymakefarlessonaveragethantheirmalenationalteamcounterparts.Thecomplaint
inlateMarchcameastheplayersseekanewcollectivebargainingagreementwithU.S.Soccer.
HeadingintotheOlympics,theMatildasarerankedNo.5intheworld.
TheyleapfroggedJapanandKoreaintheAFCqualificationtournamenttoearnthetriptoRioalongwithChinascoring17goalsinfivematches.

AustraliaisinatoughgroupinBrazilthatincludesNo.2Germany,No.10CanadaandZimbabwe.Itistheonlygroupwiththreeteamsrankedinthe
top10.ThetoprankedAmericansplayinagroupthatincludesNo.3France,NewZealandandColombia.
AustraliaopensthetournamentonWednesdayagainstCanadainSaoPaulo.
"AftertheWorldCupeverythingsortofstartedtochange.Whenwecamehometherewassomuchmediaattentionandsomanypeoplethatwere
interestedinwhatweweredoingandreallyproudofthesuccesswehad,"Catleysaidoftheteam'srisingprofile."Ithinkpeoplealwaysknewthere
wasanationalteam,butIdon'tthinktheyrealizedhowhighintherankingswewereandhowmuchbetterweweregettingasateam."
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