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.
“A special thanks to FAI communications manager Gareth Maher for being the one to truly get this process moving and the work continues to do to raise the profile of women’s football.
“We look forward to continuing to work together to make Irish football better for everyone who plays our game, regardless of their identity or background.”
This weekend will see the line-up of the FAI Cup semi-finals concluded as three Dublin teams vie for a place in the final four.
Shelbourne face Cork City for the second successive week, this time at home, after a 3-1 victory at Turner’s Cross last week saw them move clear at the top of the table.
Goals from Emily Whelan, Noelle Murray and Ciara Grant set Noel King’s side on their way and they will be confident of repeating the feat on home turf this weekend.
DLR Waves face an intriguing trip west to face Galway, whom they have already beaten home and away this season.
A feisty clash at the UCD Bowl was settled in April by Katie Malone’s injury-time strike, and the teenager scored both goals in a 2-0 win at Eamonn Deacy Park in July.
And Peamount United should have no trouble seeing off Treaty United in Limerick, while the final tie sees Wexford host Athone Town.
Caption: Saoirse Noonan has been in scintilating form for
Shelbourne, who take host Cork City at Tolka Park in the Women’s
FAI Cup quarter-finals on Saturday; (inset) Aine O’Gorman’s Peamount travel to face Treaty United on Sunday.