FPF Backtracks On Discriminatory Salary Cap For Women

Sporting CP celebrate a goal against MTK Budapest in the 2017 UEFA Women's Champions League.
Sporting CP celebrate a goal against MTK Budapest in the 2017 UEFA Women's Champions League. [Credit: Sporting CP]

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) hampered the development of its women’s leagues after its recent salary restrictions announcement. The federation has since retreated from the initiative that placed a €550,000 salary cap on women’s clubs.

Issued on May 29, the plan pertained to all athletes enrolled in Portugal’s top women’s football league for the upcoming season. The men’s league, however, did not receive any such salary ceiling.

As a result, players organized a movement called Futebol Sem Género (Football Without Gender). With the purpose to draw attention to the unfair initiative, the movement stands strong against the actions of the FPF.

The group of 132 players sent a right of reply to the FPF. In their collective statement, they emphasized the federation’s actions as “gross discrimination”. They also accuse the federation of violating two articles of Portugal’s constitution.

Futebol Sem Género (Football Without Gender) logo
Futebol Sem Género (Football Without Gender) poster. [Credit: Futebol Sem Género]

Outside of the illegality of the salary cap, the measure also obstructs women’s football in Portugal. While neighboring Spain is upgrading its top two women’s leagues to professional status, the FPF’s efforts display a great lack of commitment towards its equivalent leagues.

Pressures of the Pandemic

Since the coronavirus pandemic has hit the world of sports, talk of salary caps has been common. The thought is that setting a limit on how much players can get paid would make net incomes healthier.

But there’s a bigger picture to examine.

Salary caps for only female players would hinder the women’s game. Competition and league progress would stall. Certain players could find better opportunities in different leagues. And, competing well in Europe would become increasingly difficult for clubs.

After all, when other European leagues are less constrained domestically, they’re able to thrive more in comparison.

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Women’s football in Portugal is on the way up. During the new season, the women’s first division will increase from 12 to 20 teams. This will bring about a new north and south two-stage format that will raise the competition to the next level.

Because of progress like that, it is important that the federation properly navigates this time of uncertainty. The most important advice the federation should follow is to listen to its players.

A salary cap constructed only for the women’s league suffocates equality. While the federation retracted its plan, its initial intentions will not go unnoticed. Many federations across the world sit rooted in a similarly discriminatory mindset. It’s high time that this comes to an end.

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