Should female soccer players get the same bonuses as their male colleagues? The equal pay debate will also take place at the European Championships in England.

The year before Ada Hegerberg was voted World Player of the Year, she had resigned from her national team. 2017. In a dispute with the Norwegian association – it was about the payment and appreciation of the women’s selection.

The 26-year-old striker is now back at the European Championships in England. Persistent again: After a 20-month injury break, Hegerberg has fought back. It also stands for a global debate among women footballers for equal pay that is far from over.

Female soccer players want equal pay

Norway was the first football association in the world to align its payments for the male and female national teams long ago, and the kickers even waived part of their bonuses. And Hegerberg is back in the squad after talks with association president Lise Klaveness.

“I stand behind my decision of 2017,” says the most successful goalscorer in Champions League history with 59 goals from the current winner Olympique Lyon. “I want to do my part to help us achieve our goals and inspire young girls and boys across the country. Now I can finally do that again with the flag on my chest.”

More and more associations are now following suit with the other EM participants. “You can tell that there is movement, that women’s football is constantly evolving,” says German international and future Hegerberg club colleague Sara Däbritz. In Switzerland, for example, the performance bonuses are to be adjusted to 100 percent by 2024. Corresponding announcements were also made by the Spanish association and the European champions, the Netherlands.

Associations react

The English Football Association (FA) pays women’s and men’s teams the same entry and victory bonus – but not in major tournaments, because there the international associations pay out disproportionately more money to men.

Before the start of the European Championship, the former German world footballer and UEFA department head Nadine Kessler asked for understanding that the prize money for women is significantly lower. “Of course you can have the opinion that it’s not enough,” she said. “The amount has doubled. But people also have to judge the whole situation of this tournament fairly.”

After all, UEFA will make a significant financial loss with this tournament. The European umbrella organization UEFA pays the women a total of 16 million euros in bonuses – twice as much as in 2017 in the Netherlands. For men it was more than 330 million. Each of the 16 teams in England will receive an entry fee of 600,000 euros, while the European champions can bring in just under 2.1 million at best.

Majority in Germany for equal bonuses

In Germany, a clear majority of residents are in favor of national soccer players receiving the same bonuses as their male colleagues. This is the result of a representative survey by the opinion research institute YouGov on behalf of the German Press Agency. Accordingly, 67 percent of those surveyed are in favor of equal pay. 18 percent are against, 15 expressed no opinion.

Should the team of national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg win the title for the ninth time in the finals, each of the 23 players from the squad will receive 60,000 euros from the German Football Association. There is 30,000 euros for reaching the final on July 31 at Wembley Stadium in London. At the EM 2017, the DFB would have paid out 37,500 euros per player. The German men would have received 400,000 euros each if they triumphed at the European Championships last year.

In addition to Norway, the US team led by Megan Rapinoe is considered to be a pioneer in the equal pay debate. The successful Americans had filed a class action lawsuit against the association for discrimination – and enforced that they receive the same prize money at major tournaments.

Imbalance between men’s and women’s football

That’s not planned for the DFB – and no player is publicly asking for it. “It is not possible for women to get 400,000 euros for a title. No association in Europe can afford that as long as men’s football is the number one sport that outshines everything else,” explains Voss-Tecklenburg.

The German men’s national team recently generated a plus of more than 40 million euros through marketing. For women, there was a minus of 1.5 million. Changing these imbalances – and thus also the payouts in the long term – is exactly what the footballers want: more visibility, more attractive TV transmission times, better marketing, more support right down to the base and, above all, professional conditions. The players themselves do a lot for this in public relations.

The national coach wants a basic salary for all Bundesliga players so that they don’t have to work part-time. You look closely, says Voss-Tecklenburg, “what is happening in other countries – not least in the USA.”