Finland's women's national football team have reached an historic agreement with the Finnish FA which will see them paid the same as their male counterparts.
In practice, this means that the male players and the female players will receive the same amounts in win and draw bonuses when playing for their respective national teams.
The female national players, known as Helmarit or Pearl Owls, have fought a long battle to obtain the same contract terms and the same match day compensation as the men's national first team players. In 2017, Finland's Ombudsman for Equality launched an investigation into the issue of unequal pay at the national team level, but the body ultimately decided that the pay discrepancy was not in breach of the Equality Act.
"A great day," Finnish national team and Paris FC striker Linda Sällström wrote on Twitter. "I feel proud to be a Finnish footballer. In addition to our common dreams and goals, we now also share the same contract terms among Finland's A teams."
The Pearl Owls' goalkeeper and captain, Tinja-Riikka Korpela, a former Frauen-Bundesliga winner with Bayern Munich in Germany now playing for Everton in England, had told Yle last year that the amounts in question were not such a big deal. However, according to Korpela, the male players might not even notice such a small sum, but for female players, every hundred euros means a lot.
"For many of us, the agreement is important not only economically but also a concrete indication that the first teams are equal," Korpela said in a statement released by the Finnish Football Association.
"They deserve everything they get"
Tim Sparv, captain of the men's first team, has long been a champion of equality in national teams and welcomed the FA's announcement.
"This contract is truly significant. I'm really pleased for the women's team. The [Finnish] Football Association is a pioneer in this way," Sparv said in an interview with Yle Sports.
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Sparv had previously called for male players to take more responsibility in this area, and suggested men needed to be prepared to lower their own bonuses in favour of women.
"I am glad that we have been a small part of this process and delighted that we have been able to help in this way," Sparv added, and praised the women's national team's captain for her pivotal role in contract negotiations.
Finnish FA President, Ari Lahti, said he hopes that the new contracts will act as an incentive for players looking to further their careers in the game. Lahti added that he would like to challenge the media, the FA's partners as well as supporters to follow the example set by the FA and invest more time and money in women's football.
"This is one of the reasons we are investing in women's football. We want to be involved in developing a more responsible and equal society," Lahti said in the press release.