Gender Pay Parity: Should men and women national teams receive equal pay?

Super Falcons

The Football Association of Wales recently announced that an agreement has been reached for equal pay between the Welsh men’s and women’s national teams.

This is coming just months after the women made history, qualifying for the World Cup playoffs for the very first time before a last-gasp extra-time defeat to Switzerland shattered their hopes of world cup qualification. The men’s team, however, did make it to Qatar, for their first world cup since 1958, but were eliminated in the group stages.

A joint statement by the Wales men’s and women’s national teams said in part that “as part of the FAW’s strives towards equality, we are now proud to announce that together, our Men’s and Women’s teams have agreed to an equal pay structure for future international matches.”

Not the first to do it: The Welsh football teams now join the likes of the USWNT, the Netherlands and Spain amongst teams who announced equal pay deals in the last year. Meanwhile, England has been paying male and female players the same appearance fees and bonuses solely for senior international games outside of major tournaments since 2020.

The Nigerian situation: There have been endless calls from players and administrators to ensure equal pay for the Nigerian senior national teams – the Super Eagles and the Super Falcons. Most notably, former Super Falcons’ captain, Desire Oparanozie, argued this point in 2019 during the Ladies in Sports conference in Lagos. She said:

  • “We are the most successful female team in Africa, yet we have the largest disparities between men’s and women’s pay. I think we deserve equal pay. This big gap tells a different story and a proper rethink of this mode of payment could also help the women’s game. We have done the nation proud and I think the results over the years are there for all to see.”

Oparanozie played all 4 matches for the super falcons in the 2019 world cup in France, as the team’s fine run was marred by a sit-in protest at their hotel over unpaid bonuses and allowances following a defeat to Germany in the last 16.

Endless calls for equal pay: It was not the first time the falcons had protested over unpaid bonuses. In 2016, after winning the Africa Cup of Nations, the squad staged a public demonstration in Abuja, while in 2004, they sat for three days in their hotel after winning the African title until allowances were paid.

2019 wasn’t the last time either, as the super falcons refused to leave their hotel rooms to train ahead of their third-place play-off against Zambia in the 2022 Women’s African Cup of Nations, a match they eventually lost 1-0.

  • Without a doubt, there are lots of improvements needed to bridge the gender gap in Nigerian football, and reducing the pay disparity is one of them. For their last major assignments, the super eagles were entitled to a $5,000 match bonus for every win in the group stage of the AFCON in 2022, while the falcons got $3,000 for a group stage win in the WAFCON.
  • The super falcons are the most successful national team in Africa and remain the only African team to have played in all eight Women’s world cup finals. Going by their successes in the past years, the justification for equal pay demands isn’t far-fetched. Although this has always been met with arguments that men’s football is far more lucrative, hence a higher pay for the actors.
  • Even if gender pay parity is not adopted in Nigerian football, the new NFF board led by Ibrahim Musa Gusau should strive to ensure that the women’s national teams have access to decent pay, and fair working conditions especially when they’re on national assignments through making proper accommodation, transport and funding arrangements for the teams. This will put an end to the recurring protests over unpaid match bonuses.
  • To whom much is given, much is expected.