Chelsea and Germany star Melanie Leupolz believes demands for equal pay in women’s football are wide of the mark, and there are far more pressing priorities for the sport than money.
Leupolz, 27, is in her second Women’s Super League season with the Blues after transferring from Bayern Munich in 2020.
While she believes conditions in women’s football should be improved, she says it is not merely a question of wages.
“I don’t think equal pay is appropriate, because you have to see what the men bring in in terms of money and what the women bring in,” Leupolz told Goal.
“Clubs are currently making a loss on the women’s team. We have to invest now so that women’s soccer can be self-supporting and profitable in a few years.
“Equal pay is therefore not appropriate, because with what justification should I earn millions now? At the weekends I play in front of 3,000 spectators.”
The midfielder believes the women’s game would be better served investing in infrastructure, which would yield better long-term results.
“I would rather wish that we train on good training grounds, play in nice stadiums and that the general conditions are the same,” she added.
“That involves fewer financial obligations and is easier to implement. This also makes it possible for women’s football to be self-supporting. That’s why it’s not about salary, but about the conditions surrounding women’s football.”
Leupolz helped Chelsea to the WSL title in 2020-21, having previously lifted the Bundesliga twice while at Bayern.
Considered one of the game’s premier midfielders, she shed some light in how she got started and how playing mixed football as a teenager helped shape her playing style.
“I played with the boys until I was 14. Then I switched to a girls’ team at TSV Tettnang because the regional FA no longer gave me special permission,” she said.
“I would have had to play with the older boys, but they said that was too dangerous for girls. That’s why I had to take that step, but it was okay. The girls were really good, we played in the highest youth league in Germany.
“The physicality and the fact that you have to make a decision quickly because they’re much faster – that definitely shapes you [when playing with males], and you take that with you later when you get to the Bundesliga. Then the jump isn’t quite as big.”
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