MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Australia's soccer players' union has launched a campaign calling for prize-money parity at the women's and men's World Cups, and offered support for the country's footballers to take legal action against global governing body Fifa.
The winning team at the women's World Cup in France, which starts on Friday, will receive US$4 million (S$5.47 million) in prize money from the tournament's total pool of US$30 million. In contrast, France banked US$38 million for winning the men's tournament in Russia last year.
Professional Footballers Australia Chief Executive John Didulica and other PFA executives wrote to Fifa last week demanding an immediate doubling in prize money for the women's tournament, saying the players were "victims of discrimination".
"The PFA expressly reserves the rights of the players to have this matter resolved through appropriate means including mediation and arbitration," the letter, addressed to Fifa's Chief Officer for Women's Football Sarai Bareman, said.
The PFA has launched a website (www.ourgoalisnow.com) outlining the campaign's aims and instructing women's players how to participate.
Australia's Matildas, quarter-finalists at the last women's World Cup in Canada, have thrown their weight behind the campaign, with players posting its logo and video on their social media accounts.
Gender pay disparity in football was put in the spotlight in March when the US women's team sued the US federation, alleging gender discrimination three months before their World Cup title defence.
Although prize money at the women's World Cup in France is double the amount from Canada, the pay gap with the men's tournament actually increased to US$370 million from US$343 million. The men's prize money grew from US$358 million at the 2014 Brazil World Cup to US$400 million in Russia.
Fifa is hosting its first "Women's Football Convention" in Paris on June 6-7 where it said leaders from the world of sports and politics would discuss the development and empowerment of women in soccer.