They thrilled the nation during this summer's soccer World Cup but the Australian women's soccer team have this week hung up their kit over a pay dispute.
The team, nicknamed the Matildas, have boycotted a tour to the U.S. in revolt over their pay and conditions, which are a fraction of those enjoyed by their male counterparts, the Socceroos, who they consistently outperform in global competitions.
"We are paid a base rate of A$21,000 ($14,894), which doesn't even reach minimum wage levels," said Laura Alleway, a Matildas' defender. "I am 25 years old and can't move out of home because I want to play for my country. We are paid a part-time wage, but are expected to train full time."
The Football Federation of Australia argues it cannot afford to pay more to the Matildas, who have not received wages for two months following a breakdown in pay talks after their contract expired. The Federation is also embroiled in a dispute with the Socceroos over a new pay deal.
The debate raging in Australia and elsewhere over gender pay inequality in soccer follows controversy during the women's World Cup in Canada when it emerged the U.S. team pocketed US$2 million in prize money, compared with $35 million for the victorious German team in the men's competition.
Big pay gaps, which know few boundaries in the corporate world, extend to a range of global sports, with men earning on average 65 times more than their female equivalents in U.S. basketball and almost four times more than women in the British Open golf tournament.