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Equal Pay for Equal Play: Finland to Pay Women and Men’s National Teams the Same

Finland joins Norway and the Netherlands to introduce an equal pay structure for their men's and women's national teams, even as the world Champions, the US Women's National Team (USWNT), are involved in litigation with their national federation to receive the same.
Finland Women's National Football Team

Finland ́s move to allow equal pay to its male and female footballers has also got something to do with the societal values in the country, known for its high living quality indices, and gender equality.

Finland has become the third footballing nation in the world to introduce an equal pay structure for its male and female players. The Finnish FA made the historic announcement on September 5, saying it was hopeful that its example will inspire other countries to follow suit.

Finland's women players will sign a four-year contract with the Finnish FA which would guarantee them the same amount of win and draw bonuses as the men.

Finland joins Norway — the first nation to implement equal pay way back in October 2017 — and the Netherlands as the three countries who have made equal pay mandatory for their footballers. The Dutch players signed a deal during the course of the FIFA Women's World Cup in France earlier this year where they finished runners-up. As per the deal, the women’s team will receive equal pay out as the men’s team starting from 2023. 

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The FIFA World Cup this year also saw eventual champions, the US Women's National Team, use the stage to push forward its campaign for equal pay. In fact, “equal pay” was the celebratory slogan during the team's victory parade in New York.

The US team sued the national federation ahead of the World Cup and the legal battle between the players and US Soccer will go to trial on May 5, 2020. Even as the world champions, and arguably the strongest women’s footballing nation in history, fight for equal treatment, Finland, whose men's and women's teams never made it to the respective World Cups, have taken a huge step.

The move, following the footsteps of Norway and the Netherlands, has got more to do with the societal values in the country, known for its high living quality indices, and gender equality in all spheres, than the footballing stature.

¨We want to be involved in the development of a more responsible and equal society," said Finnish FA associate chairman Ari Lahti. "Hopefully our example will also challenge and inspire the media, partners and supporters to invest in women's football."

Finland's women's captain Tinja-Riikka Korpela said the move from the FA will help in the development of the sport in the country.

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“Now we not only share common dreams and goals but also a common contract with the same content,” she was quoted in the media. “For many of us the contract is important not only economically but also in a tangible way that the [men's and women's] A-Teams are equal.”

Meanwhile, the players of the strongest women's team in the world, have a long battle ahead. The team sued US citing payment issues as well as lower bonus, inferior travel, accommodations, training facilities and overall treatment compared to the men's squad.

Skipper Megan Rapinoe and Christen Press, who are at the forefront for the struggle for equal pay, have been publicly critical about US Soccer’s attitude towards the women players. The issue has also reached the US Congress, which has introduced a law that would block any form of federal funding for the 2026 World Cup — which the US is co-hosting alongside Mexico and Canada — unless the women's team players are paid what would be fair and equitable wages.

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