Burton-on-Trent (United Kingdom) (AFP) – England women’s manager Phil Neville believes his players must earn the right to be paid as much as their male counterparts by raising their standards on the pitch.

FIFA has doubled the total prize money on offer for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France to $30 million, with a further $20m allocated to pay for travel, training and to compensate players’ club teams.

However, that still lags a long way behind the $400 million prize pot on offer at the 2018 men’s World Cup, with winners France alone taking home $38 million.

Adidas have announced that their sponsored athletes who win the women’s tournament will receive the same performance bonus as their French counterparts who were successful in Russia.

All 28 members of the US women’s national team filed a discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation last month demanding the same pay and working conditions as the US men’s team.

However, former Manchester United and England defender Neville, who took charge of the Lionesses last year, praised FIFA’s increase in prize money and encouraged his players to concentrate on success in France rather than on sponsorship deals.

“The jump they have made in terms of prize money is fantastic,” Neville told AFP at England’s state-of-the-art St George’s Park training facility ahead of World Cup warm-up friendlies against Canada and Spain.

“I am a little bit old school, I think you have got to earn your success in life. I say to my team all the time ‘we come to this unbelievable training facility, we get everything given to us, you’ve got to earn every little bit you get in your life because you know if you earn it, it feels a lot better’.

“They’ve put the prize money up a lot. We’re being supported unbelievably by the FA (Football Association) and (world governing body) FIFA in the summer in terms of our budgets and I think in the next four or five years we will get real equality but I still think we’ve got to earn it.

“We’ve got to go out there and got to produce the best football and put on the best show for our public. If we do, it is something (former Manchester United boss) Sir Alex (Ferguson) always taught me, the money will come to us.

“The sponsorship will come to us, don’t go chasing it. If we win the World Cup, there will be that many opportunities for my players, this team, it will be unbelievable but I want us to earn that rather than giving it to us on a plate.”

 – SheBelieves –

England claimed third place at the World Cup four years ago but winning the SheBelieves Cup for the first time in March, seeing off the challenge of the United States, Japan and Brazil, has boosted expectations that they can be crowned world champions in July. 

However, instead of being burdened by that expectation, Neville wants his squad to demonstrate the same freedom and fun exhibited by England’s men in unexpectedly reaching the World Cup semi-finals last year.

“Let’s just embrace it and go with it because the next two months are going to be the best of our lives. Win, lose or draw they are going to be the best days of our lives so let’s enjoy it,” he added.

“The senior men connected with the public 100 percent. I think the challenge for my players is they have to connect with the public, the public have to know more about their personalities.

“We work a lot with the players, we know their personalities but if our public in England get to know what these players are like I think it will be just boom time.

“I think there is a massive movement at the moment with women’s football and we are part of this movement. I think if the public get to know the personalities of my players, their characters and their stories, I think it is utopia and no end where we can get to.”