Desiree Ellis during the South African national womens soccer team squad announcement at SAFA House on May 17, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: LEE WARREN / GALLO IMAGES
Desiree Ellis during the South African national womens soccer team squad announcement at SAFA House on May 17, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: LEE WARREN / GALLO IMAGES

The women’s national team players could earn the biggest pay-day of their careers at the Fifa World Cup in France and could walk away with almost R1m each.

SA Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan announced on Thursday that the Banyana Banyana players and their Bafana Bafana counterparts would for the first time earn the same amounts when they participate in the Fifa Women’s World Cup and in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

“This will go a long way towards closing the pay gap between the men and women footballers in this country and it is a happy day for SA football‚” said Jordaan.

The Banyana and Bafana players will get R320‚000 each if their teams are able to reach the last 16 stage of the World Cup in France and the Nations Cup in Egypt.

They will earn R520‚000 for reaching the quarterfinals‚ R670‚000 for getting to the semifinals and R920‚000 for winning their respective tournaments.

Bafana players have always earned more in bonuses during qualifiers or at major tournaments while their Banyana counterparts have received considerably less. But Jordaan said this would change when the two sides represent the nation in the two forthcoming tournaments.

Banyana captain Janine van Wyk welcomed the decision by Safa for remunerating them equally with their Bafana counterparts.

“It is truly amazing as you know that we have been fighting for equality in sport for a long time‚” she said. “To know that we are going to get the same incentives as Bafana is amazing.

“We have seen with women’s football teams abroad that some of them have got it right. It took us to qualify for the World Cup to get to this point but we are excited and we want to thank South Africans and Sasol and the fans for standing by us‚” she said.

Vice-captain Refiloe Jane said the move is a step in the right direction for women’s football. “The money that has been put forward for us is huge motivation for the team and it is a step in the right direction.

“We all know the challenges that we have faced as women footballers in the country for many years and we hope that this is not a once-off thing‚ and it will be continuous. We also appeal to other corporate companies to come on board and help Sasol to support women’s football‚” said Jane.

Coach Desiree Ellis‚ who captained Banyana during the difficult times in the 1990s‚ said the players do not need motivation to play at the World Cup.

“It is fantastic news for the girls who have worked so hard for so many years and it shows that women’s football has grown and that they take women’s football seriously. You don’t need any motivation to play in the World Cup but this will go a long way for the girls‚” said Ellis.