Former Aussie netball champion Liz Ellis has delivered a brilliant take-down in the week Queensland revelled in a “landmark” Origin decision.
Former Australian netball captain Liz Ellis has delivered a withering take-down of “Neanderthal” comments after Queensland announced it would pay its women’s Origin players the same as the men.
Queensland Rugby League revealed women’s representative players would receive a total of$15,000 for each match from next years’ one-off Origin game.
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The payment is the same as the men’s from this season, although men’s players also play a three-match series and Covid saw the match payments dropped from $30,000 due to the pandemic. The drop was only meant to happen for two seasons.
NSW quickly revealed it would consider the same approach and will discuss the move at the NSWRL’s next board meeting in November.
As announced on Thursday, Queensland’s female counterparts will receive $4000 for being named in the 30-player squad that will take part in a “series of camps ahead of the 2022 Origin”.
The 19 players offered a place at the final camp will receive another $7000 and those selected for game day are set to earn an additional $4000, totalling a maximum of $15,000.
This season, women’s players were only paid $3000.
While there have been questions raised over whether the women’s payments would follow the men’s should they increase back to pre-pandemic levels, it has been seen as a landmark decision.
But it has also seen some backlash, with criticism that the women’s game does not bring in the revenue of the men’s game.
Speaking on Sports Sunday, tennis champion Casey Dellacqua said it was a “big step forward”.
But Ellis quickly took aim at the critics who lashed the call, saying it was a sound investment by the game.
“I really hope that the NSW Rugby League step up and match it,” she began. “It’s interesting, though isn’t it? It does bring the Neanderthals on social media wondering why the women are getting paid equally when they’re not bringing in as much as the men.
“So let me explain it to you knuckle draggers who don’t quite understand this. This is about investing in the future of your business. The place for rugby league to grow, and Rugby Union and AFL are the same, they’ve probably hit peak registrations with the men and the boys. So you try and grow it into the women’s game. To do that, you’ve got to invest and this is a really smart investment into the women’s game.”
Peter FitzSimons added that it may be able to attract athletes from other sports.
“And the interesting thing is, with that kind of money you may snaffle some of the magnificent Rugby Union women playing Sevens and Olympic Sevens because for that kind of freight, 15k a game, there will be a lot of athletes pushing towards it,” he said.
At the announcement of the decision, Queensland skipper Ali Brigginshaw said she had already been approached by other athletes in other sports about the deal including the AFLW.
‘Better spent elsewhere’: Nine star at odds with Ellis
But one of Nine’s own — 2GB’s Mark Levy — is against the move, tweeting on Thursday: “I am a HUGE supporter of women’s sport in this country, but I disagree with today’s announcement from the QRL. The women’s team will earn the same as the men from next year, but they don’t bring in the same revenue. Would the QRL pay them 15k a game if it was a 3 game series?
“I want to make this very clear – I support, promote and love watching the growth of women’s sport. I’d much prefer to see money spent on grassroots, pathways and women’s facilities. Throwing 15k at the top players gets a headline, but what’s it doing for the growth of the sport.”
Former Labor MP Emma Husar tweeted: “You can’t claim to support then undermine. It’s called gaslighting.”
Levy spoke about the issue on his 2GB show, opining about the reveal and arguing the $300,000 deal could be better spent elsewhere. He prefaced the comments, saying he was delighted for the Maroons players because “I thoroughly enjoy watching them play”.
“But I’d much prefer to see the women’s rugby league players rewarded with $15,000 paychecks once they bring in the same revenue, the same crowds, and the same TV ratings,” he said.
“I thought today was a headline-grabbing moment for the Queensland Rugby League, when they should be investing money in the pathways for young girls to start playing football.
“If you total it up, around $300,000 is being thrown at the players, but how many women’s dressing rooms and toilet facilities are being built at junior rugby league grounds in Queensland? What’s the QRL doing to develop the game at the junior level? Would it not be better to use that money to ensure that every junior club has a women’s team?
“I just have a problem with equal pay when the money generated by the men and women is vastly different.
“How can they justify paying the Queensland women’s team the same as the men, when they aren’t bringing in the same dollars?”
He added that the women’s Origin matches haven’t attracted 10,000 fans yet and have TV audiences of 300,000, while men’s matches have 50-80,000 and a TV audience of 2.7 million.