Emma Byrne: "Girls were considering giving up playing"

Ireland team captain was speaking to Newstalk.com

Emma Byrne: "Girls were considering giving up playing"

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Ireland women's captain Emma Byrne has elaborated on the issues raised on the subject of the treatment of the women's national football team (WNT). 

The players have outlined a number of conditions they say they are currently playing under, which include changing into their team tracksuits in public toilets, and being left out of pocket as a result of playing for the National team.

No effective action has been carried out to date, according to the WNT. The FAI have issued a statement on the matter, claiming they have repeatedly invited the players, "to discuss clear and tangible financial offers for the payment and compensation of members of the squad".

The players held a press conference today to highlight their situation, and speak out about the FAI's refusal to recognise the Player's Football Association of Ireland (PFAI) as their representatives in negotiations.

Speaking to Newstalk.com after the press conference, Byrne said this is the last thing the team wanted to do:

"We don't want to be in the public eye for this particular reason, we want to be there because we're successful.

"For us to succeed and develop as a team, unfortunately, this has become an issue and the last resort. It was very difficult the last few weeks, there were a lot of difficult phone calls. 

Imge: The WNT Press Conference which was held at Liberty Hall today.

"We had to keep reassuring each other that this is the right thing to do. There were a few nerves but everyone is completely together and everyone has realised it's for the future of women's football and not just for the here and now.

She went on to claim that some of the Irish players had previously raised some of the issues at a time when "girls were considering giving up playing" and that the situation "had become quite drastic". 

"These issues are still a problem and becoming worse because everyone else around is developing more," said Byrne.

The WNT drafted in the PFAI to represent them in negotiations, although the FAI say they will only deal directly with the players.

Following a survey conducted by the PFAI, a document was produced which compiled the demands of the players for the FAI to address.

Image: Members of the PFAI along with the players.

One of their requests is for hotel accommodation for international games to include "working and reliable WiFi". Byrne explained that some members of the squad need WiFi for studying or work related purposes while on International duty.

"Without the WiFi, you're talking about (players) losing their jobs or failing their exams. It's little things like that that's going to allow us to focus on football when we're away on camps."

The FAI statement claims that concerns raised about hotel accommodation and WiFi, is one of the proposals that have been 'prepared/implemented.'

Below is the full list of the squad's demands:

  • Access to nutritionist, and individual strength and conditioning programmes.
  • Gym membership for squad.
  • Hotel accommodation to include at the very least working and reliable wi-fi.
  • Apparel for travelling to be provided to the squad prior to meeting up at the airport.
  • More home-based training sessions.
  • All non-professional players to receive loss of earnings documented from their employers.
  • Goal-keeper coach to remain for campaign, not change from game to game.
  • Match fee for all international fixtures €300. 
  • Bonus for competitive fixtures €150 win, €75 draw.
  • Qualification bonus to be agreed with team captain and player representatives at least four weeks prior to start of qualification campaign.

Commenting on the team's stance in relation to this matter, Byrne added that "everyone is completely together and everyone has realised it’s for the future of women's football and not just for the here and now".

The players are now leaving the situation to the FAI and PFAI to work through, as they look towards their upcoming friendly against Slovakia next Monday.