Women’s football has caught up – also in terms of bonuses. Austria’s national players will still receive significantly lower payments at the forthcoming European Championships in England than their male colleagues at theirs last year. Although UEFA has doubled its payout at the Women’s European Championship to 16 million euros, the entry fee for each association is now 600,000 euros. Financially, the event is likely to be a negative business for the ÖFB.
According to ÖFB Managing Director Bernhard Neuhold, the costs for the tournament amount to a seven-figure sum even without the three-week preparation. “The bottom line is that there is a deficit. This is not a lament, but a fact,” explained Neuhold in an interview with the APA – Austria Press Agency. The breakeven point would be reached at the earliest after reaching the semi-finals. “Even if there is no money left, we want to pay out bonuses as a sign of appreciation,” emphasized Neuhold – “much higher” than at the EM 2017.
“There is a lot of potential”
The sums are still not comparable with the distributions to the ÖFB men. According to Neuhold, it makes no sense to pay out at least the same percentage of the income as was rumored from Spain, because after deducting all costs there would be no net proceeds. “There is no cake to be divided,” said the head of ÖFB-Wirtschaftsbetriebe GmbH. “The men have this cake.” At last year’s EURO, UEFA provided 20 times the prize money (EUR 331 million in total) with 24 participants compared to the current 16.
However, the ÖFB also uses the “Cashcow” men’s national team to finance projects across the board, including women’s football. “Despite the deficit, we are ready to invest in the product with full conviction,” said Neuhold about the EM starting next week. The quality of the preparation and the team quarters as well as the size of the support staff have been significantly improved compared to 2017. Neuhold: “I dare to say that there are no differences to the men’s European Championship 2021 in this regard.”
Financially, however, the women are still lagging behind their male ÖFB colleagues. This is not the case in all countries. In the USA, for example, the national players obtained equal pay by way of a court settlement. But the “marketing component” is different there, Neuhold knows. And in Europe too – Switzerland, for example, recently excelled here with sponsor-financed, equally high, success-related EM bonuses for men and women – the approaches are too different to compare them.
“With us, the different revenue structure for men and women does not currently mean that we can pay out the same premiums,” said Neuhold. However, there is increasing interest in women’s issues from ÖFB partners and potential sponsors. The Lower Austrian cited the semi-finals at the EM 2017 as a can opener, but also the “closer way” with which the ÖFB players would embody the topic and be available for marketing activities as reasons. “But there is a lot of potential to position the product even better.”
The actors themselves should then also benefit, who, according to Neuhold, have had a “considerable share” in the upswing of the past few years. The players’ council was correspondingly self-confident in the bonus negotiations. Neuhold: “They had good arguments and we wanted to make our contribution. I am convinced that we have found a fair solution.” According to the managing director, the payments consist of a guaranteed amount and performance bonuses. As with the men, he did not name the exact amount.
Team boss Irene Fuhrmann was factual in the premium comparison with the men. “Of course, the goal is for things to become more equal,” said the Viennese. “But we have to be realistic if we don’t get people into the stadium, or as long as UEFA pays out different bonuses.” The 41-year-old said that things will keep moving forward. “But the gap will remain very large for a very long time.”