A former Australian soccer player has admitted she had to go on the dole while she was playing soccer for Australia.
Joey Peters, who started playing at 17, also said had to scrub toilets when playing for the Matildas so that she could afford to live.
“The thing that I’d think about when I was cleaning toilets was Harry Kewell … I’d just be cleaning toilets going, ‘Oh, if only I was a boy I’d be able to not have to do this and live comfortably’,” she told the ABC.
Peters, who retired in 2009, admitted that when she wasn’t cleaning toilets, she had to be on the dole. Peters says she was the vice captain of the Matildas and was lining up for centrelink, as was the team’s captain at the time.
“I don’t know if she’d like me saying it but I say it with all due respect, that Cheryl Salisbury, our greatest ever female footballer, would be lining up,” she confessed to the ABC.
The women who play for Australia – whose team is ranked ninth best in the world – earn an average of $21,000 each as a base salary, plus match fees. The dismal wage has ended up forcing one of the teams top players, and former captain Melissa Barbieri, to retire.
“Retiring is probably the best option for me and my family,” Barbeieri told the ABC.
The Matildas went on strike in September this year, after their success in the FIFA World Cup. They withdrew from their training camp demanding better pay.
“We’re not asking for millions of dollars,” midfielder Teresa Polias told the ABC. “We’re asking for minimum wage, to sustain our lives off the pitch to do well on it. It’s as simple as that.”