Female footballers hail historic pay deal in New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Leading women's players have hailed a deal with New Zealand Football which adds travel benefits to previous moves toward equality with their male counterparts.

NZF has announced a three-year collective agreement with professional players which gives women pay parity, an equal share of prize money and equal payment for image rights for those selected in national teams.

Those elements had previously been in place but the new deal also provides for business class travel on long haul flights for the women's so-called Football Ferns, matching the treatment of the men's national team.

Striker Sarah Gregorius, who came out of retirement in February to play a leading role in negotiations, said equal treatment of elite women was "an awesome line that we've now drawn in the sand."

"No matter who you are, whatever gender, when you pull on a New Zealand football shirt you're entitled to the same treatment and respect no matter what."

Gregorius said she is "proud to have the opportunity to represent my country again but also to be part of a process that the country can be proud of away from the football field as well."

The soccer federation follows rugby and cricket in New Zealand in increasing pay and benefits to elite female players.

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