Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Ireland women's football team strike deal with FAI after treatment row

Ireland's professional women's footballers have reached a deal with their bosses over demands for basic entitlements including tracksuits, gym membership and match success fees of less than 500 euro (£427).

In a landmark but confidential agreement brokered in the early hours of Thursday, the Republic of Ireland players said all of the issues had been addressed.

More than a dozen players went public earlier in the week, angered at their treatment by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI), with their lawyer describing the women as being "dirt on the boot of the FAI" and "fifth-class citizens".

They claimed they have been forced to change out of team tracksuits and official sports gear in airport toilets.

Captain Emma Byrne, who had a glowing 17 year career at Arsenal Ladies including 11 league titles, 10 FA Cups and the Uefa Women's Cup, said it was humiliating.

The women were supported in their campaign by the Professional Footballers' Association of Ireland (PFAI) and trade union Siptu and asked for match fees of 300 euro (£260), a 150 euro (£130) win bonus and 75 euro (£64) for a draw, gym membership for the squad and team clothing.

They refused to train on Wednesday and the dispute threatened the team's clash against Slovakia next Monday in Dublin's Tallaght Stadium.

The exact terms of the deal are to be kept secret but the players are back training.

Siptu's Ethel Buckley said: " This landmark agreement was only possible due to the organisation, bravery and commitment of the national team players.

"Their courageous action in publicly outlining their concerns provided their union representatives with a solid foundation from which to engage with the FAI and find a just resolution to this dispute.

"The events of the past two days' amount to a short, sharp and successful campaign to advance the rights of women in sport.

"They are also a reminder that in any area of modern Irish society women should never accept being treated as second class citizens."

Ms Buckley added: "The members of the women's national football team, who displayed such bravery in the stance they took this week, deserve the respect and praise of not only the current generation of women in Ireland, but of future ones as well.

"I have been honoured to be among their representatives."

In a statement on the deal with the players, the FAI said: "The Association is pleased that both sides have reached common agreement and a settlement, which allows the two parties to move forward together as one, in the best interests of Irish football."

Ollie Cahill, Professional Footballers Association of Ireland player executive, thanked the public for supporting the women.

The deal was brokered hours after FAI chief executive John Delaney was elevated to the Executive Committee of one of football's governing bodies, Uefa.

With his success comes substantial six-figure pay, alongside his reported 360,000 euro (£308,000) a year FAI salary, and expenses for attending meetings and events across Europe.

Earlier in the week the FAI said it had made repeated overtures to the women players to resolve the situation.

It initially described their actions as an "unprecedented ultimatum" following what it said were "repeated invitations" to discuss "clear and tangible financial offers for the payment and compensation of members of the squad".

Politicians had threatened to bring the dispute to the Irish parliament by asking Mr Delaney to attend for questioning at a special committee meeting.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph