Matildas tour to US called off as PFA and FFA fail to reach agreement

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Football Federation Australia (FFA) chief executive David Gallop has confirmed the Matildas' tour of the United States, which included playing in front of 60,000 people in Detroit, has been called off.

The FFA and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) failed to reach an agreement today in 11th hour negotiations regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). 

The move comes after PFA spokesman Beau Busch said the tour was called off on Wednesday night, a day after players refused to attend a training session in Sydney and the subsequent pre-tour camp.

In a press conference this afternoon Gallop expressed his regret at the situation

“Sadly, the Matildas will not be playing the USA because FFA and the A-League clubs can’t meet the PFA’s unaffordable demands in relation to the level of the salary cap for A-League players,” said Gallop.

Matildas forward Ashleigh Sykes, who had to quit her job in the lead up to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in June, said she was very disappointed by the announcement. 

"It’s really frustrating, everyone wants to play, everyone wants to represent their country and we want to get down to business of preparing for the (2016 Rio) Olympics and the Olympic qualifiers, but we’re not going to do that until we get some progress (on negotiations)," said Sykes. 

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Gallop described the demands of the PFA as "preposterous".

"What happened today was quite extraordinary because, effectively, we've been told that unless we meet a wage claim for some $120 million - the bulk of which will go to male professional players in the next four-year period - then the Matildas would not be participating against the USA," said Gallop. 

The majority of the Matildas and Socceroos remain united behind the PFA efforts to secure a CBA. 

According to Sykes the Matildas have not been paid for two months, this includes prize money owed from the Women's World Cup where the Matildas reached the quarter-finals stage - the best ever result for a senior Australia national football side. 

"We’re asking for an increase of $150,000 on top of what the FFA has offered. That equates to a maximum $43,000 per annum per top-tiered contracted player. That’s from about $20,000 at the moment," said Sykes.

"I don’t believe we’re asking for anything exuberant. We’re not asking for equal rights with the men. We’re realistic about the state of the women’s game. We’re simply asking for full-time pay."

Many of the Matildas quit their jobs in the lead up to the World Cup because preparations were a full-time commitment. 

Gallop confirmed the players were not being paid. 

"The female players aren't being paid. Their contracts have expired and they have been advised by the PFA not to train or play for the Matildas until the Socceroos and A-League deals are done.

"The Matildas alone are the ones being directly affected as a result of the whole of game CBA talks not being resolved."

It is believed that the FFA went directly to the players without notifying the PFA and offered a temporary solution that would have seen the Matildas paid the World Cup money owed, back-pay the past two months and guarantee wages for the duration of the US tour.

19 Matildas rejected this offer directly, then later the PFA formally rejected the offer when it was put to them because it was seen as only a temporary fix. 

FFA confirmed that they would go ahead and pay the Matildas the World Cup prize money "within the next 24-48 hours," which amounted to $13,274.15 per player.

PFA chief executive Adam Vivian claimed the Matildas primary concern was job security. 

"The letter agreement is a band aid solution. It did bring forward some money that was owed to the players in terms of World Cup earnings, and some back pay. But these are very short-term solutions," said Vivian. 

"It’s very important we get the right deal at the right time. It’s not about any games of brinksmanship."

Vivian refuted the suggestion that this could "destroy" the Matildas. 

"Absolutely not. This has shown how galvanised the group is. We put a message out to the players to review the offer and within 15 minutes we had 19 Matildas on the phone."

One player to break ranks is Captain Lisa de Vanna who said earlier this morning that she wanted to play regardless of the negotiations. 

“If my coach calls me and asks me to play I will always make myself available. At my age I am not sure if the opportunity to play the world champions will come up again," De Vanna told News Corp Australia.  

Vivian and Sykes both insisted that they respected De Vanna's decision and she would continue to be supported by the PFA and the playing group. 

This is the latest consequence in an ongoing saga which saw the Socceroos refuse to do any commercial commitments while in Perth taking on Bangladesh and Luke Brattan cancel his Brisbane Roar contract.

Since February, the parties have met more than 30 times to craft a deal.

According to the FFA, "virtually all the negotiation has been about the A-League component of the three-way deal. That’s because the largest part of football’s $30 million annual player payments go to the A-League’s 230 professional players."

"The A-League accounts for roughly $25 million, the Socceroos up to $4 million and the Matildas under $1 million.

"The PFA gave us a counter-proposal involving a fresh set of demands, including;

"An immediate $1 million increase across 10 clubs in the Hyundai A-League salary cap for this season and further $2 million for the following season in 2016-17. This $3 million increase in payments would come directly from club finances ($300,000 per club).

"An immediate pay rise of $1,000 per match for Socceroos, increasing the match fee from $6,500 to $7,500 per match. This represents an immediate 13% increase.

"Significant increases in spending on air travel, accommodation and benefits for Matildas players. FFA had taken the position that the priority for new funding for the Matildas would be devoted to an immediate 10% pay increase, with annual increases rising to 15% across the term of the CBA.

"The PFA declared that unless FFA accepted a four-year whole of game CBA worth over $120 million, the Matildas would withdraw from the matches against the USA."

A petition created on the website Change.org urged the FFA to "support the Matildas Soccer Team by paying them the wage of an elite athlete in Australia." 

As of 8pm (AEST) Thrusday it had been signed by over 20,000 people. 

Both parties continue to claim to be committed to finding a solution.

  

Source SBS