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England defender Lucy Bronze says the squad feels “empowered” to improve standards in the women’s game.
The Lionesses released a statement on Tuesday saying they will pause discussions with the FA on performance-related bonuses until after this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
Some nations are set to provide player bonuses but England, who won Euro 2022 last summer, will not as things stand.
“It’s the first time as a group we sent a message out ourselves,” said Bronze.
“Collectively, it was done together and we set our sights on [it]. In that respect, it’s a very empowered player group this morning, last night and in the last few weeks.
“We felt it was important we sent the message out to show we’re focused on the World Cup.”
England captain Millie Bright released the statement on behalf of the players stating they were “disappointed that a resolution has still not been achieved”.
They said they had “full intentions of revisiting” the discussions after the World Cup and they “feel a strong responsibility to grow the game”.
England face Haiti on Saturday (10:30 BST) in their first Group D match of the tournament, which is being staged in Australia and New Zealand.
Bronze, who has 105 caps for England, added: “There are always discussions going on. I’ve been part of a leadership role for many years and this has been made more public, not just by our team, but other teams.
“It’s important to share our voices, strive to make differences. Although we’re just players, we want women’s football to be better for ourselves and in the future.”
‘It’s not just the figures – it’s what it represents’
This year, for the first time at a Women’s World Cup, players will receive individual payments directly from Fifa. Money from Fifa was previously given to national football associations, who would then choose how to distribute it, including any payments to players.
The payments from Fifa this year range from £23,500 for players whose teams are knocked out in the group stages to £211,000 if they win the tournament. Nations will also receive increased prize money, with the champions set to be paid £3.4m.
England’s players feel the FA, which considers itself to be a leading federation in women’s football, is being overshadowed by some rivals – including Australia, the United States and Spain – who are willing to provide bonuses to their squad members.
“I like to give my opinion, I’m strong-minded. We have a few players like that who set the standard,” said Bronze.
“It hasn’t taken our attention away [from the World Cup]. We’ve managed it perfectly. It’s the principle of pushing the game, pushing standards higher. It’s not just what the figures are, it’s what it represents.”
Australia’s squad have also criticised the gender disparity in World Cup prize money and the fact some nations do not have collective bargaining rights.
Before the United States won their second successive Women’s World Cup in 2019, players filed a discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer regarding equal pay, and later found an agreement in 2022.
Striker Alex Morgan said last month the USA are in a “different space” going into this year’s tournament because of improvements in equality, but other countries are still fighting for it.
Bronze said she had discussions with the USA’s Morgan and Spain’s Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas earlier this year.
“We’re not doing this for ourselves. We can set a standard, something we’ve seen with the US team. They won World Cups because of it and all teams are seeing that,” added Bronze.
“The World Cup gives us the big stage, it’s when people want to listen to us, when things really matter, and [it’s] why so many teams are speaking about it. It’s the only moment they sometimes get this stage.
“Teams across the board are empowering each other, to push the game on. It’s the biggest World Cup ever, and I’m sure in four years’ time it will be even bigger thanks to the changes that we’re able to make.”
‘I’m pretty sure we’ll find solutions’
Bronze hopes they “will be able to find a solution” with the FA and they are “fortunate” to work with a federation that “wants to push the game on” but it is necessary to have difficult conversations.
Injured Euro 2022 captain Leah Williamson has been involved in the discussions, which Bronze insists has “100% not” been a distraction.
“It’s about finding a solution that works for both [players and the FA] to strive to make the game better,” Bronze added.
“[The FA] are on our side, want to make the game better and you see that in everything we do. I’m pretty sure we’ll find solutions and it will never get to the point and route that other teams are going down.
“We are European champions – we’ve changed the game massively in England. We want things to fall in line with what we’ve done on the pitch.
“If we can set the standard for ourselves, then we can for other nations who don’t have as good a relationship with their federations. We can empower the whole game. It’s a bigger picture.”