American sporting legend Billie Jean King described the news as “exciting.”
The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has announced that the men’s and women’s senior sides will receive equal pay with immediate effect.
The governing body announced the decision, which it described as “historic,” after talks including team captains Seamus Coleman and Katie McCabe.
The men’s squad have agreed to reduce their international fees, with the FAI matching their contribution to ensure that the women’s side’s match fee is increased.
The decision was announced at the end of August, meaning that the international matches at the start of September marked the first games with the policy in place.
Ireland forward Stephanie Roche said that the move was not motivated by financial reasons but was more about equality.
“It’s not about money, it’s about being considered equal,” Roche told the BBC.
“If you ask any of the girls, nobody wants to be paid to play for their country. This is about parity, for years one group has been paid and one not.
“I think that sent out the wrong message. We all work hard for our country when we play and this shows that the FAI care and they want to improve the standard of women’s football.”
In a statement, the FAI described the move as a “ground-breaking deal for Irish sport,” with Ireland Senior Women’s Team captain Katie McCabe adding: “This is a great day for Irish football.
“We have taken a huge step forward with this deal and have shown the world what can be achieved through unity as we offer male and female international players the same opportunities.”
EQUAL PAY AGREED ??
A historic day for Irish football as the FAI agrees equal pay deal with WNT & MNT squads ahead of their World Cup qualifiers ?
— FAIreland ⚽️?? (@FAIreland) August 30, 2021
Men’s team captain Seamus Coleman said that the players were “delighted to do what we can to ensure that our female international players are treated equally and fairly and we remain fully committed to doing whatever we can to achieve that goal together.”
The equal pay announcement comes four years after relations between the FAI and the women’s senior side reached an all-time low, with the women’s team threatening to go on strike over their treatment by the nation’s governing body.
Players said that they had to get changed in public toilets on the way to matches a representative of the players said that they were being treated as “fifth-class citizens, the dirt on the FAI’s shoe.”
The move received praise from many, most notably legendary tennis player and women’s rights advocate Billie Jean King.
The 39-times Grand Slam champion tweeted: “Exciting news from @FAIreland.
“The women’s and men’s national teams will earn equal pay! The men’s squad agreed to reduce their international fees, & FAI will match their contribution to ensure the same pay for the women’s team.
“This is progress!”
Exciting news from @FAIreland.
The women’s and men’s national teams will earn equal pay!
The men’s squad agreed to reduce their international fees, & FAI will match their contribution to ensure the same pay for the women’s team.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 31, 2021