Norway’s elite female footballers will now earn as much as their male counterparts when they play for the national team, in a ground-breaking move for gender equality in sports in the Scandinavian country.

The Norwegian women’s team was previously allotted 3.1 million kronor (Rs 2.5 crore) a year, less than half the amount given to the men’s team.

But in keeping for Norway, one of the world’s most gender equal nations, a new agreement has been brokered between the Norwegian football federation and the players’ association (Niso) that sees the former almost double the amount given to the women’s team to 6 million kronor (Rs 4.8 crore). The men’s 6.55-million kronor (Rs 5.3 crore) budget has been trimmed by 550,000 kronor (Rs 44.2 lakh) to bring the two teams in line.

“This agreement is probably unique in the world,” acknowledged Niso head Joachim Walltin. “It’s very positive that Norway is a pioneering country in this field.”

Ingrid Moe Wold, capped 39 times for the women’s team, said: “It’s very good news which will make a huge difference for the conditions of women players in the national team.”

Teammate Caroline Graham Hansen added: “This was maybe a small thing for you to do for us. This will maybe not show in your monthly wages. This was maybe an obvious move for you to do!

“This though means everything for us! For our team! For our sport!”

Norway’s women’s team, which won Olympic gold in 2000 having also claimed two European titles (1987, 1993) and one world crown (1995), are currently ranked 14th in Fifa rankings.

The men’s team, which has never won a major competition, is currently 73rd in Fifa standings.

“As for the women, we men are already very privileged,” said men’s captain Stefan Johansen.