Opinion: England Lionesses squad should be paid same as men's team, writes Labour leader Shaz Nawaz

Labour group leader, Shaz Nawaz, gives an ‘Opposing View’ in his latest column.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 5th August 2022, 12:02 pm

There is something altogether wonderful about their win at Wembley versus Germany, which has distinct echoes of England’s World Cup triumph in 1966.

They have gladdened the hearts of a nation wearied by turmoil, Covid, and many difficult crises. Indeed, their effect has been so profound, it may very well be apropos to suggest rather than “three lions on the shirt”, it’s three lionesses.

Pay should be the same

Leah Williamson of England lifts the UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Trophy . (Getty Images)

However, I read a statistic: on average, a Lioness player is paid on average £30,000 per annum. Leah Williamson is training to be an accountant. There is a deep inequality that needs to be addressed in this situation: the Lionesses have succeeded in a way that the Lions have not for decades. The emotions roused by their victory are the same: the excitement, the feeling of unity.

The level of skill is the same: I was in awe of Alessia Russo’s “nutmeg” in the semi-final versus Sweden. Ms. Russo struck the ball off her back heel and scored; her shot went through the legs of the unsuspecting Swedish defenders.

If the talent and the spectacle are the same, the pay should be too. Ms. Williamson should not feel obliged to train as an accountant; she should have wages which are commensurate with her talent and the value she provides.

Furthermore, it’s clear that this government hasn’t valued women’s football to the extent it should; Boris Johnson could not even bring himself to attend the final.

Undervaluing true assets appears to be a motif of today’s Conservative Party. Closer to home, the Millfield area was in desperate need of regeneration money. It has been allocated £2.3 million; what it really needed was £7.5 million.

It is not as if the area doesn’t produce an economic return; it is of benefit, it’s where people go to eat and shop. The area needs regular cleaning just as much as the town centre does.

Millfield parking

Furthermore, anti-social behaviour is an issue: funds were needed to tackle that.

I am certain also that anyone who has tried to park their car in Millfield recently will note the severe lack of places to do so. This leads to people finding “creative”, i.e. inappropriate, ways to park. More investment could have remedied this. It would have generated a return: better infrastructure liberates economic activity.

It has been said that a cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. I believe the same saying could be applied to the Conservatives.

They see something like funding women’s football or regenerating an area and look at the price tag rather than what they may get out of it, or what the benefits might be. Sometimes, we are lucky: despite the pressures placed upon them, the Lionesses triumphed.

Millfield will thrive as best it can; I encourage residents to take part in the consultation. Imagine if we looked at the real value of what we do and what we have and acted accordingly, how much more we could achieve!