- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

SYDNEY (AP) - Australia’s two-match series in the United States to face the Women’s World Cup champions has been called off as negotiations continue over a new collective bargaining agreement, the players’ union said Wednesday.

Professional Footballers Australia, a union representing male and female players, said the tour was called off late Wednesday, a day after players refused to show up for practice in Sydney.

However, Newscorp Australia reported early Thursday that six players, including captain Lisa De Vanna, had reportedly broken ranks with the union and still wanted the tour to go ahead and hoped to fly to the U.S. on Friday.

“I just want to play for my country. It’s all I want to do,” De Vanna said. “If my coach calls me and asks me to play I will always make myself available.”

Coach Alen Stajcic spent Wednesday evening contacting players to see if they would still be willing to play despite the union ruling.

The previous agreement expired in July.

PFA chief executive Adam Vivian informed Football Federation Australia of the players’ decision immediately after a meeting of the Matildas earlier Wednesday.

“The players are currently uncontracted, and are under no obligation to participate in any Matildas-related activities,” Vivian said in a statement.

“The players feel they have been left with no option other than to take this course of action. They were hopeful that FFA’s position would alter following yesterday’s breakdown in negotiations. However, the interim letter agreement offered to the players this afternoon, with a 6 p.m. deadline, proved this had not been the case.”

FFA chief executive David Gallop earlier said the tour was “looking very unlikely” because of the players’ actions.

On Wednesday, Gallop said 60,000 seats were sold for the matches in Detroit on Sept. 17 and Birmingham, Alabama, on Sept. 20.

The union is seeking an increase in wages, international match payments, improvements in accommodation, and other benefits for the women’s team.

The men’s national team boycotted community events before a World Cup qualifier in Perth last week.

Vivian earlier said each women’s team player makes 21,000 Australian dollars ($14,475) a year.

“They don’t even have yearly contracts, they have six-month contracts,” Vivian told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio Wednesday, adding the female players have not been paid in two months.

“When they were negotiated, it was because it was on the premise that they were part-time, only 120 days a year they would have to work, and clearly as we saw in the lead-up to the Women’s World Cup,” Vivian said. “While it was fantastic that they had a full-time program, the remuneration wasn’t (great) … they ended up working 154 days in about six months, and so they fall into sort of that underpaid category very quickly.”

The Matildas lost to Japan in the quarterfinals at the Women’s World Cup in Canada.

The PFA is also negotiating for more pay for domestic A-League players, and an increase in each of the 10 team’s salary caps.

“It’s sad that the Matildas have been dragged into a dispute that’s primarily about the A-League,” Gallop said Tuesday. “The offer to the Matildas would basically double their pay over the next four years. The new demands are simply not affordable and the PFA knows it.”

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