Floorish Newsletter ⚽ Football Gender Pay Gap

Welcome to the sixth edition of the Floorish newsletter dedicated to providing you with insightful data, ideas and views on diversity, equity and inclusion. In this newsletter, taking no more than 3 minutes of your time, I aim to keep you informed and inspired with thought-provoking content, practical tips and inspiring stories.

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As a passionate football enthusiast, my childhood was filled with memories of playing the sport with my brother and several boys in our neighbourhood. Back then, there were very few women’s football teams. Since I was forced to play as one of the few girls on a boys’ team, I made the decision to join a field hockey club instead.

At that time when we talked about watching the Dutch national team we only meant the men’s team. Nowadays, things are different! It brings me joy to witness the progress that has been made in football, although it is evident that there is still much more to be achieved.

The persisting pay gap between men and women in football paints a stark reality for most women. Despite their unwavering dedication and hard work, they continue to earn significantly less than their male counterparts. Today, with the Women’s World Cup as our platform, I want to explore the multi-faceted dimensions of the gender pay gap.

1. Revenue generation

➖ Generating higher revenue, men’s football brings in significantly more money through ticket sales, broadcasting rights, and sponsorships, which justifies higher pay for male players.

➕ The historical lack of investment and opportunities for women’s football perpetuates the pay gap. It is essential to address these fundamental disparities.

2. Market demand

➖ The demand for men’s football is evidently greater, as is demonstrated through larger fan bases and TV ratings.

➕ Being influenced by historical biases and unequal opportunities, market demand is hindered by less visibility and support for women’s football.

3. Competitive level

➖ Men’s football is often more competitive and of a higher standard.

➕ Being affected by factors such as investment and resources, the level of competition is historically biased towards men’s football. Women’s football is as impressive as men’s football.

4. Financial viability

➖ Ensuring financial sustainability in football clubs and leagues often requires higher wages for male players, considering their higher revenue-generating potential.

➕ Paying male players higher wages to ensure financial viability overlooks the potential for growth in women’s football with proper support.

5. Work hours/effort

➖ Male footballers may be required to play more matches, participate in additional competitions, and engage in more promotional activities.

➕ Investing similar efforts and work hours as male players, women footballers uphold the principle of equal pay for equal work, making the pay gap unjustifiable.

6. Historical factors

➖ Men’s football has a longstanding history and has therefore an important cultural standing.

➕ Perpetuating the pay gap based on outdated norms, historical factors have contributed to underinvesting and discriminating against women’s football.

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The pay gap

  • Even with a substantial increase in prize money for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the tournament’s total prize pool remains approximately one-third of what the men compete for. The Women’s World Cup is getting $152 million in prize money which is still only about a third of the $440m the men got in Qatar 2022.
  • In 2023, female soccer players in England’s Women’s Super League earn an average salary ranging from £27,000 to £35,000 per year. The highest-earning female players in England make less than the lowest-paid male players in the English Premier League.
  • England Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman is said to be earning £400,000 per year. In contrast, Gareth Southgate, manager of the England men’s team, makes around £5,000,000 per year even though Wiegman has managed to lead England to win UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

Towards pay parity

  • The prize money for the FIFA Women’s World Cup is $110 million, which is part of a total $152 million package covering prize money, team preparation and payments to players’ clubs. This is three times more than what was on offer at the last Women’s World Cup in 2019 and 10 times more than in 2015. 
  • In 2023, players representing Wales in both the men’s and women’s football teams achieved a significant milestone: equal pay for their contributions. To make this deal possible, the Wales men’s senior team agreed to a 25% pay cut, enabling a 25% rise in pay for the women’s team. The teams’ joint statement: “We hope that this will allow future generations of boys and girls to see that there is equality across Welsh international football, which is important for society as a whole.” Other countries where men’s and women’s national teams earn equal pay are Australia, Brazil, England, Norway, New Zealand and…
  • The U.S. Women’s National Team has won the Women’s World Cup four times, while the Men’s National Team has never won the Men’s World Cup. In 2019, the Women’s National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The case was settled in 2022, with the USSF agreeing to pay the women’s team $22 million and to equalise pay for the men’s and women’s teams going forward.
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While posing hard questions on why and how to change it, the gender gap pay in football has given rise to a passionate movement characterised by its commitment to bridge the gap by amplifying advocacy efforts. Support from prominent figures, influencers, and organisations has been essential to ensure equal opportunities and recognition for female footballers.

Addressing the underrepresentation of women in decision-making roles within the football industry is equally vital. Additionally, promoting engagement and viewership in women’s football and other women’s sporting events will foster remarkable growth and greater appreciation for female athletes on a broader scale.

As I conclude this exploration of the pay gap in football, I hope that one day, we will proudly look back and say, “The gender pay gap? That’s a thing of the past.”

I hope these insights have sparked your curiosity and I invite you to share any data, ideas or views you believe should be highlighted in future newsletters. Stay tuned for the next edition.

Warm regards,

Floor Martens

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