A football club in Sussex, UK has been praised as the first professional or semi-professional football to pay both men's and women's first teams equally.
Lewes FC have launched a campaign - Equality FC - to raise awareness for gender inequality in the sport and encourage people to support girl's and women's leagues.
The campaign aims to raise and set playing budgets at an equal rate for both first teams, provide equal resources in the way of coaching, strength and conditioning. They also want the campaign to encourage clubs who are part of the initiative to upgrade all equipment and facilities to meet standards required by higher football divisions, and as a club want to invest in outreach to local grass roots teams to encourage equal participation from girls and boys.
The women's first team currently plays professionally in the FA Women's Premier League, whilst men play semi-professionally in the Isthmian League Division One South.
'We believe that there should be a level playing field for women in football,' the club's director, Jacquie Agrew, said.
'By committing to paying our women’s and men’s teams equally, and providing equal resource for coaching, training and facilities, we hope to spark a change across the UK that will help put an end to the excuses for why such a deep pay disparity has persisted in our sport. Together with our owners, donors and sponsors, Lewes FC can show that equal pay can be implemented to the benefit of both women and men in sport and beyond.'
The women's first team manager, John Donaghue said:
'I am proud that Lewes FC has stepped up to launch the Equality FC campaign. Every day I see the passion and commitment our players have for the game, and I am sure this is mirrored across the country in women’s football. For female players to have the same rewards as their male counterparts for doing the same job is a fantastic leap forward for women’s football. This sends a powerful signal to not only our players and our club, but to the whole UK football community that women’s football deserves an equal voice and support to men’s.'
Darren Freeman, men's manager, added: 'We use the same pitch, the same facilities, the same ball. As football fans we all want our team to win regardless of gender. Parity means giving everyone the same opportunity and getting the same rewards.'