Sport W-League must be bold as it begins life after Sam Kerr
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Sam Kerr’s W-League departure presents Australia’s elite women’s soccer competition with the perfect chance to refocus.
Kerr has been the league’s face and has generated much of its mainstream media attention for many years but it can thrive without her.
Add Kerr’s departure to the Football Federation Australia and A-League/W-League split, those competitions’ collective bargaining agreements coming up for renewal next year, and it’s clear that it’s the ideal time for those in charge of the game to be bold when it comes to domestic women’s soccer.
Matildas set to receive equal pay in historic deal
The Matildas are reportedly set to be the first women's football team in the world to receive equal pay as their male counterparts.According to the Daily Telegraph, terms have been agreed to between the Professional Footballers Association and Football Federation Australia, with the deal to be backdated to July 1 and made official by the end of this week.
That happened for our international players last week with the news that the Matildas and Socceroos would evenly share national team revenue.
A-League chief Greg O'Rourke is thinking creatively and that's good. He's floated a partnership with the United States National Women's Soccer League to ensure Europe's women's soccer boom does not blunt the game here too much. That's wonderful.
But if there is no seriously improved commitment to women’s soccer in next year’s pay deal then momentum the Matildas and the W-League have built up over the past 10 years won’t be fully realised.
It’s also regrettable that expansion clubs Western United and Macarthur FC were not implored to enter a W-League team from inception, or at least have a serious women’s soccer component.At the time FFA scuppered those wishes partly due to player depth concerns. It’s baffling that Central Coast and Wellington still don’t have a W-League team.
W-League can replace Kerr factor: Matildas
Matildas stars Alana Kennedy, Clare Polkinghorne and Ellie Carpenter are adamant the W-League still has some power despite the absence of Sam Kerr.That's the opinion of Matildas trio Alana Kennedy, Clare Polkinghorne and Ellie Carpenter, three of the biggest players to watch when the women's domestic league begins next week.
Macarthur and United both want to enter the W-League, with Macarthur now saying they’d like to enter in 2021 and United’s Steve Horvat saying ‘‘as soon as the opportunity presents itself’’.
The fact is that in this day and age no major sporting investments should be made without a women’s team – granted, it is an enormous, expensive task to build one team up from the ground let alone two.
If a consortium, bidder, governing body or even an existing club has enough money for only a men’s team but not a women’s team then that organisation does not have the required cash to operate what should be the minimum for any professional, 21st century sporting franchise – a men AND women’s program.
On investment, Melbourne City have led the way in respect to W-League, and Melbourne Victory’s proposed base in Footscray will be that club’s real flag-in-the-ground moment for women’s soccer.
Matildas star Kerr drops massive hint about her next move
Sam Kerr confirmed she is moving to Europe and will announce her next club within the week, hinting of a possible move to England.The 26-year-old says she will finalise her decision within a week and, according to sources close to the player, is weighing up hefty contract offers from European champions Lyon and current English league leaders Chelsea as revealed by the Sydney Morning Herald.
And it’s right to applaud FFA and the clubs for where the W-League currently sits. It is a fantastic competition and all the investment in it over the years is appreciated. But more is needed.
By all indications there’s a cordial atmosphere to the W-League CBA discussions with the PFA, rather than an adversarial one. All parties understand more needs to be done.
Reports suggest the A-League, once split from the FFA, will require all teams to have a W-League side.
There will be a push for women’s sides to have one playing base, for the W-League season to be extended, for better pay, for full-time coaches and staff, for better facilities, for every match to be broadcast live across television and online, for better connection to state leagues and a stronger co-ordinated approach to sponsorship for each club’s men’s and women’s teams, among other plans.
This requires investment. If it means there is less money to invest in the men’s game by club owners and FFA, then perhaps the men’s game might have to manage money better. It probably should anyway.
If owners, FFA and broadcasters are willing to pay hundreds of thousands or millions for players like Alessandro Del Piero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or even Kosta Barbarouses (with no disrespect to Kosta), then they should be willing to put up similar coin to make the professional soccer landscape for men and women more equal.
Matildas teammates excited by Kerr move .
Sam Kerr's big-money move to English club Chelsea is another exciting step forward for women's football in Australia, her Matildas teammates believe.Kerr has joined the Women's Super League outfit on a two-and-a-half-year deal, taking her talents to the rapidly growing English league.
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