THE senior women's Irish football team have threatened strike action after claiming poor working conditions, including not having designated team tracksuits.
In an explosive press conference this afternoon in Dublin, the senior team spoke to reporters, voicing a series of 'issues to be addressed.'
Included on the list was access to nutritional programmes, gym membership, hotel accommodation with Wi-Fi access, more home-based training, match fees, team apparel to be provided prior to travelling and loss of earnings for non-professional players.
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As a result, the team has threatened to take strike action against the FAI and refuse to play against Slovakia in a home game next Monday, April 10.
Speaking at the press conference, goal keeper and captain Emma Byrne - who also plays for Brighton and Hove Albion - said: "We're not allowed to keep the kit.
"It's humiliating to have to go into a public toilet and change. It's humiliating the fact that it doesn't cost much to give the squad a tracksuit to travel.
"If [the FAI] want us wearing the same clothes, wearing the badge, then give us the tracksuit, it's not that difficult.
"They don't have enough tracksuits, and our underage tracksuits have to wear those tracksuits too," she explained.
The players said that when travelling for games, the kit is presented to the players at the airport or on the way to games, and they would have to change in public toilets.
"On occasions in the past we've been getting changed in the toilets at airports, on the way to matches, being given our kit there, having to open our personal bags there, putting our kit in," forward Áine Gorman said.
Stephanie Roche also said it wasn't a "big ask" to allow the senior women's team to keep the team tracksuits.
"A lot of our trips would have been coming back from America, travelling long distance and I think aside from us being international footballers, for anyone who's ever been away on a holiday, the last thing you want to do is go into a bathroom and change.
"I think a simple way to resolve it would be allow us to keep our tracksuit, which isn't a big ask," she said.
Another issue for the women's team was the loss of wages for the players on the team who are not professional players and have to take leave for every game and training session.
"If we look at the figures between September 2015 and September 2016," midfielder Karen Duggan said. "We would have taken over and above 40 days.
"Some girls are taking this as unpaid leave, some girls are taking this as holiday leave.
"That's maybe two months wages out of your 12 months sacrificed, and we've received no reimbursements for six years," she said.
Representing the team, solicitor Stuart Gilhooly said today's conference was a "last resort."
"It's about respect, it's about dignity, it's about fairness, it's about equality; that's what it's about today. The fact that we're here today is a matter of last resort.
"All the women have asked for is a €300-a-match fee, it's a very very small amount of money; it is simply to make up for what they might of lost in terms of career development, in terms of earnings, and in terms of the time they give to such an important part of their sport."
Mr Gilhooly went on to say that the women's team were the "dirt off the FAI's shoe."
"I think we need to recognise that the women's international team is being treated, not as second class citizens, as a fifth class citizen.
"They are the dirt off the FAI's shoe, that's how they see them."
In response, the Football Association of Ireland said it was "deeply disappointed that members of the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team have threatened to withdraw from playing for their country in the upcoming match versus Slovakia.
"Repeated efforts by the Association have been made in a bid to encourage the players to row back from their unprecedented ultimatum [...] The Senior Women’s National Team are provided the standards of care expected of a demanding high performance environment, with top level training facilities, hotel accommodation, dietry, fitness, performance analysis and medical and physio care.
In the lengthy statement, the FAI also said the team has received "significant increases in budget in recent years to attain this high standard" and given a Champions League winning coach.
The FAI also said that separate to the financial offers that the FAI has made to the players "detailed submissions have been sent to Sport Ireland and Government in January 2016, May 2016 and January 2017, to request funding models that address the personal commitments made by players at senior level."