The success of the England women’s football team in reaching the World Cup semi-finals for the first time has taken a lot of people by surprise.
Less surprisingly, there’s been a lot of talk lately about how little they earn compared to even the most journeyman Premier League player – let alone the six-figure weekly take home pay of many international stars.
Firstly, some of the stars of this World Cup *are* very well paid – however they aren’t likely to be the England team members.
The popularity of women’s football in the USA means that sponsorships and endorsements are plentiful, and players like Alex Morgan can make over $1m a year from this. They’ll still earn around $180,000 from being centrally contracted to the USA national team.
For the Lioness stars though, it’s a different story. While 27 players are currently centrally contracted to the England national team, the rest of what they earn will depend on what they earn from their Women’s Super League (WSL) team, and any sponsorship endorsements or media work they might have.
According to this article, England skipper Steph Houghton could earn around £65,000 a year – around £26k from the central contract, around £35k from her professional club contract with Manchester City, and around £4k from endorsements. And she’s among the very highest earners.
In the outside world
Outside of the national team, many women’s footballers are virtually amateurs – some WSL players will earn as little as £50 a week and balance their club career with regular jobs, part-time jobs and in many cases with motherhood.
As a result, some of the centrally contracted England players are far higher qualified in the ‘outside world’ than their male counterparts – Eniola Aluko is a lawyer on a sabbatical, and Claire Rafferty works part-time for Deutsche Bank, for example. Not all have it easy – Fara Williams, capped more than any other England player, has said she was homeless during the first 6 years of her career, even as an international.
Should they be paid more? It’s a question on many people’s lips at the moment.
With increased TV coverage, magazine covers, sticker albums and record national team crowds it’s clear that the Lionesses have made a real impact, especially since the GB team’s performances at the Games two years ago. Some might point out though that WSL crowds rarely reach into four figures, and that the standard is at best variable.
I say that it’s a growing game – it’s different from the men’s game, and shouldn’t be compared to it, whether in pay or play. It can inspire others to follow suit, and we should be encouraging the women’s game to grow at the right speed.