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Rachel Corsie: Why Scotland Women’s players are taking legal action against SFA

Scotland captain Rachel Corsie speaks to her team-mates. Image: PA.
Scotland captain Rachel Corsie speaks to her team-mates. Image: PA.

Throughout my entire career, there has been no greater honour than playing for my country – nothing has ever come close.

However, the Scotland Women’s National Team squad, including myself, are now taking legal action against the Scottish FA in order to address what we consider long-standing issues of inequality in pay and conditions.

The women’s players were in talks with the governing body over these issues, but those discussions have now broken down, and we are as a result ready to take our case to an employment tribunal.

SWNT squad dispute with SFA hasn’t come out of blue – and latest step wasn’t taken lightly

It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly or one which has come of the blue.

Instead, this legal action is the result of a long-running dispute with the SFA which has meant we’ve essentially played for the national team for the last two years without a contract – because we’ve been trying to sort a new contract which we are determined will ensure player welfare, correct practices and equality with the men’s team.

Scotland Women playing against Ireland earlier this year. Image: Shutterstock

This contract remains unresolved, because the SFA have not agreed on the terms which we have asked for – which is why we feel we have no option but to take things further.

It’s not just money, we want resources players at the elite level should have

The players feel the resources we’re asking for are the minimum requirement for us to actually perform at an elite level for the national team.

People might have looked at the headline when the news of the legal action broke and simply responded by saying the men’s game generates more revenue than the women’s game.

But it’s not about men versus women – we want all the teams who represent Scotland to experience success, however, sadly things need to change if the SWNT are going to be able to perform on the park.

Money is part of our overall push towards equality, but the issues we have faced over the years are more than just financial ones.

There are other things you expect to be taken care of at elite level, when you play for the national team, like nutrition, travel, accommodation and medical resources.

To always feel like you’ve never been provided with the appropriate level of the those things, it wears you down and that is really tough.

Our overriding feeling is we’ve been disrespected and are undervalued.

Players have pushed growth of game in Scotland

The growth of the women’s game in Scotland over the last decade, we feel, has largely come from the players themselves.

We’ve had to break down a lot of barriers and strive for better standards and, again, this can be incredibly draining.

The women’s game is growing globally and the margins at the top are getting smaller and smaller, but, unfortunately, instead of just focusing on performing, winning and getting to major tournaments, our focus has been on trying to get a sufficient environment to perform in.

Seeing what US players achieved gives us courage

We want this to be resolved in a manner where everyone feels we are all on the same page going forward.

We should be in it together. There should be unity between players and the SFA.

There’s no better feeling than being selected to play for Scotland and to wear the shirt. It means the absolute world to us all.

Rachel Corsie celebrates scoring for Scotland at Hampden. Image: Shutterstock.

It is sad it has reached this point, but what is even sadder is to hear and read out loud how some of the players feel, which is the same as some of the things I’ve felt.

Earlier this year, the US women’s team secured a pay-out from their association over pay inequality.

It’s very powerful to see the impact of collective action: a national team standing up and using their voice to fight for better resources.

I had a good insight into the work which was done in America because I was there for a long time and know a lot of the players who were involved on a personal level.

It’s powerful to see what they did and it does give you courage.

We want Scotland to be the best we can be as a national team and women’s footballing nation – that’s important to us all – and what we’re doing now could make an incredibly important difference for the future.

NWSL report sets a precedent

On Wednesday, a joint investigation between the NWSL and NWSL players’ association resulted in a report which detailed widespread misconduct in the American league.

I was involved in the investigation as part of my role as the vice president of the players’ association and as a former Kansas City Current player.

I feel relieved the investigation has happened and the findings have been made public – but I don’t really feel any gratification from the outcome.

It doesn’t make me feel any better today knowing the people who have caused harm are no longer in their roles, but I am glad that it’s set a precedent of players not standing for mistreatment.

It shows players are willing to stand together and stand up for what is right, and ensures policies and procedures will be in place to protect players.

Those procedures and policies mean the likelihood of players experiencing what some have experienced in the past is far diminished.

And that was the reason why I wanted to be part of the NWSL’s players’ association and it’s why others got involved – for the greater good and for things to improve.

A lot of players have experienced trauma because of the issues highlighted in the report, and I hope they finally have some peace and can move forward.

Aberdeen Women can impress potential new manager at Rangers

In their final game of the year on Sunday, Aberdeen Women have a chance to impress a potential new manager who might be looking on with intrigue.

Of course it’s going to be a tough game for the Dons as they travel to Rangers in SWPL 1, but its a chance for them to go out and perform at the highest level.

Aberdeen’s Eilidh Shore comes up against Rangers’ Chelsea Cornet at Balmoral Stadium. Image: Shutterstock.

Ultimately somebody new is going to come in at some point in the new year, and they will come in with their own ideas and expectations.

The players will have to embrace that, but, for now, what they can do is step up and take responsibility for their own game.