The Republic of Ireland women’s football team got their Saipan moment last week as they finally renegotiated talks that will see them reimbursed for taking days off work for matches.
The national team had huge public backing, and the deal was announced as it was revealed that the chief executive of the FAI John Delaney was getting a significant salary boost after his election to the executive committee of UEFA.
Sixteen members of the squad, as well as union representatives from the PFAI and SipTu met with the FAI and a mediator in a Dublin hotel, after the team cancelled their training session ahead of their match with Slovakia. The nine-hour discussions went on until 4am last Thursday morning and the team were back training afterwards.
Earlier in the week, the players held a press conference where they highlighted numerous issues and a general lack of professionalism as they claimed they were forced to change out of team tracksuits in public toilets to give back to underage teams.
They also reported that some of them would miss 40 days of work within a year to train and play with the team and were not reimbursed.
The FAI initially refused to meet with the PFAI but as Karen Duggan, the 2016 player of the year said: “We really feel like we’re at the end of our tether. We’ve been banging our heads against the wall for a long time.
“It’s important not to lose sight of what the actual issue here is. It’s not about getting a tracksuit, that’s very easily resolved. It’s about a group of players who are made of up of teachers, students, and footballers at the end of the day, not having the skills to go in and interact and make developments with the FAI, who have skilled negotiators.
“We feel that we’ve done it before and not enough action was taken from it. It hasn’t been proactive on the FAI’s side. We just want to see the women’s game develop and for this group of players and the players coming through to be allowed to reach their potential.”
They renegotiated in order to gain match fees of 300 euro (£260), a 150 euro (£130) win bonus and 75 euro (£64) for a draw, gym membership for the squad and team clothing.
Meanwhile, Delaney’s election means he will serve a four-year term as one of the ten committee members beneath five vice-presidents and FiFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
His FAI salary of €360,000 (£308k) will receive a boost of €100,000 (£85k) in his new role, accompanied by generous expenses and a daily allowance of €300 (£257) as well as pension rights.