The PUNCH has gathered that members of the Super Falcons that attended the 2023 Women’s World Cup jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand were paid the sum of $40,500 in contrast to the supposed $60,000.
The 2023 Women’s World Cup was the biggest edition ever, with FIFA expanding the tournament to 32 teams and also increasing the prize money significantly.
Last June, FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced that the world body would dole out $110m in prize money to the 32 participating teams, which is close to a four-fold increase from the $30m in 2019, allocated for 24 teams.
The world football governing body added that all the 732 players in the new scheme were guaranteed to receive $30,000, while the 23 players in the winning team will pocket $270,000 each — the first time ever that women players will receive guaranteed pay at a World Cup.
After earning the guaranteed $30,000 for appearing in the group stage the Falcons earned another $30,000 after making it to the round of 16 of the tournament.
The Falcons booked their spot in the round of 16 of the competition for the third time in nine appearances after a goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland in their last group game to place second behind co-hosts Australia in Group B.
Randy Waldrum’s ladies finished with five points, one point behind The Matildas, who thumped Canada 4-0 in their last game as well to move ahead of Nigeria.
After securing a goalless draw in their first game against Olympic champions Canada, the Falcons followed it up with a stunning 3-2 win over co-hosts Australia, before finishing the job with the stalemate against the already eliminated Ireland.
For progressing from the group stage, each member of the 23-woman Falcons squad was assured a whopping $60,000 (N46.2m as at August’s exchange rate), $30, 000 being their prize money in the group stage and another $30,000 for reaching the last 16.
The PUNCH has gathered that players from several teams at the World Cup received significantly less than they hoped, as a result of a significant level of tax imposed on their match earnings by the Australian Tax Office.
According to a UK publication, The Guardian, all players whose teams were based in Australia for the duration of the tournament are receiving just over two-thirds of the match fees, with the ATO imposing a 32.5% withholding tax. The imposition of this tax was an integral part of the hosting agreement that FIFA agreed with the Australian government.
The tax imposition implies that Nigeria’s players, who reached the last 16, narrowly losing to England, earned $60,000 each but only received $40,500 after the ATO’s deductions.
Speaking to The PUNCH, a member of the Falcons team said, “There’s nothing hidden there, it is what they said FIFA gave to them to pay players. We got $40,500 each and they said it was the Australian tax. Maybe FIFA should explain.”
Another player added, “It is true that we received $40,500 and NFF said it was from FIFA.”
“The tax authorities, based on the contract they had with FIFA, deducted 32.5%, meaning each player got $40,500 each as against $60,000. The players were shown the email from FIFA,” Ademola Olajire, director of communications for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), told the Guardian.
In contrast, all teams that played their group and knockout matches in New Zealand had no deductions from their match fees. They were given tax-free status by New Zealand’s Internal Revenue Department. The teams who played in both countries were taxed on a pro-rata basis of the amount of games played in Australia.