Culture

People Are Taking Their #BootsOff To Support Fair Pay For Female Footy Players

"We have the opportunity to get it right the first time."

The introduction of the AFL women’s league this year was exciting and frustrating in equal measure. The enthusiasm from footy supporters, which was backed up by huge ratings of the first televised All-Star game, signalled that Australia had been crying out for an all-female league for long a while and would be hanging out for the first official season next year.

However, it was soon revealed that many female players would earn just $1000 a month, despite the average male AFL player earning more than $300,000 per year. Today in support of fair pay for female footy players, people around Australia are taking off their shoes at work as part of a #BootsOff social media campaign.

“We’re a group of friends and AFL fans who couldn’t believe the AFL was seriously proposing to play the majority of female footy players just $5000,” says one of the organisers, Zoe Edwards. “The creation of the women’s league is a game-changer for Australian sport but $5000 for five months work, no boots and no health insurance is not enough to give players the space to excel and make the new league as good as it can be.”

“Doing so will show the community that the code is committed to treating women with respect.”

The campaign seems to have picked up momentum in the last few hours, with the likes of Tom Ballard and Greens MP Ellen Sandell taking off their shoes in solidarity. You can understand why players may be reluctant to publicly speak out about the pay gap, particularly during the draft which is taking place today. The fact that female players are not being supplied with equipment has been a key issue in the pay disparity.

The #BootsOff campaign is a good reminder that the equal pay criticisms against the AFL have not been forgotten and that fans still have to apply pressure to the league to make these changes happen. “The AFL Women’s pay problem hasn’t disappeared — today’s draft shows how women have been working their guts out to get to the top of their game,” Edwards says. “Fans are outraged. The AFL needs to give them a fair go so they can help the new league succeed.”

“Australians love female footy. More than 6000 people went to Whitten Oval to watch the women’s all-star game last month and more than one million people across watched on the tele. A national league has been far too long coming in our opinion. Now, we have the opportunity to get it right the first time.”

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