Fiji Rugby admit underpaying women internationals

Fiji Rugby have conceded they underpaid their women’s team for last year’s World Cup and this year’s Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship after captain Sereima Leweniqila made a public complaint on social media.

The Fijiana finished runners-up to Samoa at the regional tournament on Australia’s Gold Coast this month. On Tuesday loose forward Leweniqila took to Facebook to complain that the players had not been paid in full.

“Do we have to win every time to be treated right? Could we get paid the amount due to us?” she wrote.

“What does it take for our voices to be heard? Do we always have to fight to get what we deserve? Pay Us What is Due to Us.”

Fiji Rugby’s board of trustees released a statement on Thursday saying all payments had been made, but a day later the interim chairman of the board, Peter Mazey, issued another saying there had been an error.

“I personally contacted Sereima Leweniqila … to address the issues she had raised and learned that the major concern of the women was that … they had been promised a payment of $300 per day and not the $100 per day they had received,” Mazey said in the statement.

“During my further discussions with Sereima, I also learned that the women who represented us at the women’s World Cup last year were also underpaid and that they had not received any response from Rugby House to their queries.”

Mazey said his investigations had concluded that both complaints were justified and he assured the players that the situation would be rectified.

The confusion over the allowance for the Oceania championship, he added, had come about because $100 was the normal allowance for a regional event.

“I feel I must thank all of those great women’s rugby players who had the strength and honesty to come out and bring their rights to the trustees’ attention,” he said.

“I am only sorry that they were forced to use the social media platform to achieve what is their right due to promises made.”

Leweniqila and many of her international team mates were also members of the Fijiana Drua side that claimed a second straight title in Australia’s provincial Super W competition in early May.

They won the championship despite off-field money issues that at one point left them locked out of the restaurant at their Queensland accommodation over an unpaid bill.

(Compiled by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by William Mallard)

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