Scotland’s female internationals have launched legal action against the Scottish Football Association (SFA) over equal pay and treatment claims.
Scotland women’s national team captain Rachel Corsie will be the lead claimant in the employment tribunal case against the SFA. She told Sky Sports News the move stemmed from a sense of “disrespect and lacking value” which had been felt over a “considerable period”.
The players will demand a contract stipulating equal pay – something the SFA has since claimed is already the case – and treatment compared to their male counterparts on issues such as training facilities, hotels, travel, kit, plus medical and nutritional resources.
“This has been a longer-standing process over our contractual agreement,” Corsie told Sky Sports News. “In the last two years it hasn’t been possible to resolve the current one and come to an agreement.
“There’s been some disparities we’ve learned of and unfortunately we’ve ended up in a place where we are now.
“It’s something the players have felt over a considerable period there’s been moments of disrespect and lacking value.
“We don’t feel like we’re all in it together, and when you talk about an association that’s involved in elite-level sport, major tournaments, part of that is about the provision of resources. There’s a long history where that’s fallen short.
“We know, the people at the SFA know what high-performance looks like, they know what resources are required and there’s a long list we could go through.
“Ultimately, the important thing is we find a solution, a place whereby we can guarantee the provisions for both senior teams are sufficient to enable the players solely on performance. It’s something the women’s national team haven’t been able to do.”
The action will be fully funded by PFA Scotland and is likely to cite equal pay arrangements in the national teams of the United States, Norway, Canada and Sweden. The American women’s team reached a reported £17.7m settlement with US Soccer earlier this year following a six-year legal fight.
The SFA said in a statement: “The Scottish FA shares the fundamental view of our women’s national team that equality should be at the heart of the development of the game at all levels.
“It is why we have been in ongoing dialogue with the women’s national team, their lawyers, advisors, and union representatives to continue to support the exponential growth of the women’s game and inspire future generations.
“In the interests of accuracy, it is important to clarify some facts arising from the latest statement issued by the SWNT.
“First, no national team player, whether men’s or women’s, is paid to play for their country or receive ‘appearance fees’. International representation is and should always be regarded as a privilege and not a job, a view that we believed to be shared by all. We do not consider such fees to be in the spirit of playing for your country. Our Men’s and Women’s squads receive a per diem rate for their time with the national team, which has been exactly the same since 2017.
“While other associations such as those named in the SWNT statement may choose to pay appearance fees, our men’s and women’s national team players are incentivised to qualify for major tournaments, from which the teams are paid the same percentage of prize money from the tournament organiser.
“The squads are further remunerated in lieu of contractual media and/or promotional appearances for our national teams’ sponsors. Again, the Scottish FA has ensured that men’s and women’s players are paid the same amount for appearances involving designated official national teams’ sponsors.
“As a result of ongoing dialogue, in September the Scottish FA sent a draft agreement to the SWNT’s advisers, which confirmed that all financial arrangements for the SWNT and SMNT would be the same – in addition to the existing equal payments for promotional appearances – but have to date received no substantive response.
“Since the ticketing statement in April, there has been consistent dialogue between the SWNT senior players and senior members of the Scottish FA to ensure in-camp provision is appropriate for the SWNT players. No issues have been raised that have not been dealt with in that regard.
“The Scottish FA will continue to invest more in the development of the girls’ and women’s game than the commercial income received. We have worked hard to increase broadcast revenues for SWNT games – a commitment within our Accelerate the Game strategy for the women’s game – and whilst the broadcast revenue gap is reducing, it is the principle reason disparity of earnings exist in men’s and women’s domestic and European leagues and competitions across Europe.
“We remain committed to accelerating the growth of girls’ and women’s football at all levels.”
Corsie: Having to walk away would be ‘worst point of career’
Corsie did not rule out the prospect of her and her team-mates walking away from the international scene if there was no resolution to the dispute, but told Sky Sports News it would be the worst point of her playing career if she felt compelled to do so.
“I hope it doesn’t come to that,” she said. “We’ve seen it elsewhere, it would be a real, real low. It’d be the worst point in my career if we felt we had to do that collectively.
“It’s a place where it’s already very serious, this isn’t something anyone involved takes lightly.
“It’s not something you can be comfortable with, as a player you want to be part of the national team and when you turn up, the focus can be performance and doing your job.
“We want to find a way where that’s possible again, and going forward we’re in a place whereby the environment feels appropriate, encouraging and elite.
“We want to feel like everyone’s pulling in the same direction and wants the same thing.”
Weir: We feel like an afterthought
High-profile Scottish internationals Caroline Weir and Erin Cuthbert have also added their voice to the calls for change.
Real Madrid midfielder Weir said: “For so many years we’ve felt an after-thought, and whilst we have seen growth it’s come as a result of driving our own change.
“Payments from sponsorship deals overwhelmingly go to the men’s game, and to male players. In our current society, this is one example of the outdated prejudice towards one group of players.
“The national team should be one unified organisation that backs both the SMNT and SWNT. It should be an elite and high-performing environment that ensures both teams can build success.
“If shared out equally, there would be a dramatic increase in funding for women’s and girls’ football at all levels that would be transformative.”
Chelsea player Cuthbert added: “This campaign must be the start of an irreversible turning point to forever change our national game and the way women players are treated. It’s about advancing and achieving equality in Scottish football.”