England are three days away from the prospect of winning the Women’s World Cup for the first time.
Sarina Wiegmann’s side take on Spain on Sunday, and whatever happens, the England coach’s future is a hot topic of debate after she led the Lionesses to back-to-back major finals – especially given the resignation of USA women’s coach Vlatko Andonovski.
So what’s next for Wegman? How will England players be rewarded if they lift the trophy on Sunday? And what happens to the negotiations on bonuses that stopped before the start of the tournament?
The Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham and women’s technical director Kay Cossington spoke to the media at a bed and breakfast in the sleepy seaside town of Terrigal, Australia, to address these issues and much more.
here, the athlete She presents a selection of their comments – slightly edited in places for brevity – followed by analysis from women’s football editor Chloe Morgan, as she shares her views on Bullingham’s and Cossington’s answers.
Sarina Wegman’s necklace
Mark Bullingham: “We’ve seen a lot of rumors and she’s a special talent. From our side, she’s obviously on contract until 2025. We think she’s doing a great job. We’re obviously huge supporters of her and hope she feels the same way. She’s someone we’d love to have with us for a very long time.”
“We’ve always said we’ll get to (contract discussions) after the tournament. We’ve had good talks after the Euros. There will be a good time to do that. We have some time because she’s contracted until 2025 and obviously she’ll want to have a decent break after that. We’re big fans of her.” Significantly “.
When asked if the FA would reject any approach by the USWNT to Wiegman, Bullingham said, “Yes, 100 percent.”
Kay Cossington: “For someone like Sarina, you want to win football matches and championships and we are able to supply a good group of players for seasons and years ahead. That is really attractive for any coach and manager. We are able to provide the infrastructure and support for the players and the team and we have an exceptional culture that really allows everyone to thrive. It is It makes going to work every day a blessing and that’s really attractive to people like Sarina.”
But will the Dutchwoman also manage Team GB (made up of players from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, as former England coaches Hope Powell and Hugh Rise did before her?
Bullingham: “We have a plan; it is too early to talk about that. Qualification is obviously not from this tournament – it is from the Women’s Nations League – so at the right time we will talk about that, but there is a clear plan in place.”
Chloe Morgan Analysis: There is little chance of a future in which Wigman leaves the Lionesses in two years’ time. You only need to look at Wiegman’s beaming and ecstatic photos after the semi-final victory over Australia to see that this is a woman who loves her team, the players and the fever of victory.
Wegman’s partnership with Arjan Ferenc, her assistant, is a happy and fruitful one. She is enjoying herself and it would be a no-brainer for her to leave before attempting the World Cup again in 2027.
She’s made history with the Lionesses and if she manages to manage them in the World Cup for the first time on Sunday, I’m not worried she’ll look elsewhere.
Wegman’s salary – parity with men’s manager Gareth Southgate
Bullingham: “If you look at the disparity in the market and the income coming in, that’s why there is a difference. We’re not talking about people’s pay. Sarina, within the market she’s in, she’s paid well.
“If you look at the comparison in the men’s game, it’s a different market. I really want those markets to consolidate over time and that’s where it needs to go, but we’re not quite there yet.
“We look at the gap between the men’s and women’s players and what they earn. The average (annual) salary in the Women’s Premier League is less than the average salary in the Premier League for a week. We’ve got great football played by the Lionesses and in fact all the teams in this league and I think they’re They show that there is a demand for it.
“This (pay parity) is the long-term goal and the place to get it. We are a not-for-profit and every decision we make has a consequential effect. So if we take money from one area, it has to come from another. I want it to keep increasing.” Hers is for sure and that’s the long-term goal. But if you’re going to do it now, you’ll have to take the money from somewhere else.”
Morgan analysis: To be honest, this is not good enough. You can’t underestimate what Wigman has achieved in her very short time and I don’t just mean trophies in the big leagues.
You have supported and created players who are confident enough to speak up, spark change and inspire generations. It has got a nation excited about our ability to dominate the international stage. I made tough decisions with respect and focused on developing young players.
For the Football Association to say her salary cannot change because this is the market average is disrespectful and a missed opportunity to lead the way in pay parity for a women’s international manager.
Bullingham: “In terms of statuary, it’s something to look forward to after Euros (2022), we’ve made progress on that and it would be right if we had something to celebrate that success outside of Wembley.
“We’ve made progress with the discussions but we can’t announce more than that yet. It’s on Wembley’s heels.
“The next stage is working on the design. It was our starting point for the collective (design). You can imagine the iconic images that came out of the Eurozone.”
Could this be the iconic moment that Chloe Kelly took off her shirt?
Bullingham: “I’m no builder! But if I’m going to think about it, I’ll think about it.”
Morgan analysis: She is a firm yes from me. Preferably in gold and hopefully designed with input from the team and various parts of the women’s football community.
In terms of photos, listing the entire group is key, but there must be various hints on throwbacks to all the former Lionesses too.
Bullingham: “We’re sorting it out after the tournament. They (the Lionesses) have had a very strong argument before, and a very strong case after that, but the truth is there is a discussion to be had.
“There wasn’t much time before the tournament. FIFA announced the prize money very late and it was a completely different model which led to a different kind of discussion. It wasn’t a problem of compromising mode – it was a problem of being on time and working through this new model. We’ll come to a good solution.”
Morgan analysis: I had hoped, rather naively, that Bullingham would announce that the FA, pre-empting our questions, had made a bargain and a great reward had been agreed with the Lionesses to fairly compensate them for this history-making campaign.
It is a fallacy to say that rewards are not agreed upon due to time. The Lionesses would not have spoken out if the FA, when asked about rewards, had said “Yes, but bear with us while we iron out the details”.
Did the FA shoot themselves by not agreeing to bonuses in advance? Yes. Before the tournament, the Lionesses were just long-time winners of the European Championships (please note the irony). After Sunday, if all goes as planned, the Lionesses will be world champions.
The playing field has shifted, the balance of power has shifted further and the FA can now achieve more than its initial vision – which was £0 plus prize money distributed through FIFA.
(Top photo: Mark Metcalfe – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
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