(Reuters) – England forward Toni Duggan has said she supports the U.S. women’s soccer team in their battle for equal pay with their male counterparts but does not think that England’s women players should adopt a similar approach.
Reigning women’s world champions the United States sued their soccer federation in March with allegations of gender discrimination and complaints about lower wages and unfavorable working conditions.
The lawsuit has fed the debate about gender inequality in soccer but Duggan believes that although women players in England should be paid better, the push for equality should begin with getting them access to better facilities.
“I don’t want to just start with money. We need pitches, facilities,” she told The Guardian. “Equality for me is having a pitch to play on and hot showers in the changing rooms before we talk about the money we get.”
The total prize pool for the women’s World Cup is $30 million, less than the $38 million that France received for winning the men’s tournament in Russia last year.
Australia’s players union launched a campaign last week calling for the $370 million gulf in prize money between the men and women’s World Cups to be closed, but Duggan said the money divide was because men’s soccer was more popular than women’s.
The 27-year-old added that the U.S. women’s team, who have won the World Cup three times, are justified in their fight because they have been more successful than their male counterparts, who have never reached the final of a World Cup.
“I have a strong opinion on it and I believe they should be doing it because they’re more successful than their men’s team,” Duggan said. “Should (the England women’s team) be doing it? No.
“We don’t bring in the money that the men do, we’re not as successful as them yet. They bring in a lot more money than us commercially and are more successful. They have more fans, are more popular.
“I believe the girls should be better paid but not the same as the men.”
England take on Scotland in their World Cup opener in France on Sunday.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Jennings)