The NRL has ruled out using over $600,000 collected in off-field fines to compensate NRLW players who have had their season postponed until 2022, claiming the governing body has already spent $1 million on the women’s game this year.
Players union boss Clint Newton wrote to NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo requesting female players be compensated and paid one third of their 12-week base contract for the inconvenience of having the season pushed back until next year.
As well as wanting to be paid for pre-season training, a number of players had already taken time off work to relocate for the season before being told at the eleventh hour the season would be postponed until 2022.
Newton suggested that money collected in off-field fines incurred by male players be given to their female counterparts, as the funds are not budgeted for.
“The women have done the work, they are to be paid,” Newton said. “We’ve had to find the money for certain things this year. We didn’t budget for 12 teams going to Queensland. All those spends were great spends and necessary to try and make sure the comp is successful. But this is also essential and necessary.”
Both Abdo and ARLC boss Peter V’landys were quick to shut down the idea this week.
“It’s an awesome idea. But it’s not one that we think is appropriate,” Abdo said.
Roosters star Hannah Southwell described the NRL bosses’ response to the request as pitiful.Credit:Getty
Abdo and V’landys justified not compensating the players by claiming $1 million had already been spent on the NRLW this year.
They said that sum had been spent on the relocation of the New Zealand players, who are now stuck in Australia, and honouring the contracts of the NRLW’s 24 centrally-contracted stars.
“The fines are irrelevant,” V’landys said of the bad boys fund. “Let me give you an example. What if the players were 100 per cent compliant? Does that mean we spend zero on the girls?”
“At the moment, people have to understand we are recovering from last year. We made a substantial loss last year. There’s a lot of people at the door wanting assistance.”
Roosters star Hannah Southwell described the NRL bosses’ response as “pitiful”.
“I’ve used [this phrase] every day for the last week, it’s very disappointing that has occurred. I knew it would be the case. Yet again, the NRL just don’t surprise me,” she said.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of sporting organisations and a lot of sport and this is probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t blame any of the girls for going to play another sports, like I would consider it. The way this has been handled is shocking.”
Southwell also called on players in the men’s game to speak up on the issue.
Melbourne star Christian Welch received widespread praise this week after publicly calling out the NRL for their treatment of the women’s game.
“Just write a comment on a post, share something. Just back us,” she said.“This just doesn’t happen in other sports.”
On Thursday, Welch also called on his peers to speak about the NRLW in support of the women in their game.
Welch said he had spoken out after chatting to Maroons captain Ali Brigginshaw at a community event, who told him about the issues they had been having with the NRL.
“If we don’t keep moving forward and improving we are going to get left behind,” Welch said. “Obviously there are so many other sports really advancing how they treat their women, you look at the AFL and they’ve committed to going to 18 teams.”
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