By Dave Donnelly
Ireland’s footballers struck an historic deal on Monday to ensure equal distribution of match fees for senior women’s and men’s sides.
Women’s captain Katie McCabe and men’s captain Seamus Coleman helped to broker the deal that will see the men take a reduction to be matched by an increase for the women.
The men had been paid €2,500 per game and the women around a fifth of that figure but, starting with Wednesday’s game with Portugal, the disparity has been eliminated.
Also involved in the discussions for the groundbreaking deal were FAI CEO Jonathan Hill and Shamrock Rovers CEO Jonathan Medlar, head of the sports consultancy firm BDO.
There was also an agreement put in place for ‘equality of approach’ with regard to potential future qualification for men’s and women’s tournaments.
This puts Ireland among a small number of progressive countries to have guaranteed fair compensation for its elite players.
Norway, Finland, New Zealand, Australia and England are among a very small number of countries to have done so in the past.
The most successful team in women’s football history, the United States, have been locked in a two-year court battle with their national association in their pursuit of equal pay.
“This is a great day for Irish football,” Kilnamanagh’s McCabe said . “We have taken a huge step forward with this deal and have shown the world what can be achieved through unity as we offer male and female international players the same opportunities.
“I am very proud as Ireland captain of the work that has been put in to get us to this point, not just by the current team but by so many Irish players in the past.
“They are the real heroes in this story, they took a stand and they passed on the baton to the current generation.
“Seamus Coleman and his team-mates in the senior men’s squad also deserve credit for being brave enough to support us in such a progressive way on this issue. It is really appreciated.
McCabe went on to thank the new FAI CEO Jonathan Hill and Ciaran Medlar, CEO of Shamrock Rovers and head of sports advisory agency BDO, for helping broker the deal.
And she reserved a special word of thanks for Gareth Maher, the FAI’s communications manager, for spearheading the project.