The football gender gap must get the boot!

It’s great that we now care sufficiently about the gender pay gap that large businesses are now required to report it.  However, the way we treat our sporting heroes doesn’t set the best example for the rest of society to follow.

Steph Houghton, England Women’s Captain

The Women’s FA was originally formed in 1969, and three years later the first women’s World Cup took place. Since then, the interest in women’s football has grown, in regards to players and fans. With it being almost 50 years since the women’s FA begun, major steps towards equality between men and women in football would seem likely, but despairingly there has been little progress., a football ticket sale company decided to highlight the shocking pay difference between men and women in football alone. Many believe this is justified, spoke to Oliver who claimed:

“I believe it is fair that women get less pay then men in football. The quality from men and the standards are much higher. They also train more and spectator rates are greater for men than women. I tried watching a female match once, and was quickly bored.”

This assumption seems the popular consensus; however, statistics highlight this opinion could be due to the disparity in earnings and public attention surrounding the female football league.

Five top female players combined earn less per year than Carlos Sevez does in a week

When analysing the difference in male and female wages, discovered that the top five female international players, collectively earn less than what Carlos Sevez earns weekly!

The most recently revealed weekly wages for top female international players are as follows: Marta Vieira, (£312K), Abby Wambach, (148K) Alex Morgan, (55K) Heather O’ Reilly, (51K) Nicole Banecki, (47K). This contrasts dramatically to the current top International Male Footballer wages: Carlos Tevez (£32 mill), Cristiano Ronaldo (£19 mill), Lionel Messi (£18.6 mill), Gareth Bale (£17 mill), Oscar dos Santos (£15 mill).

World Cup prize money less than 10% of male winnings

However, the gender gap in wages is not the only issue within footballer’s earnings. Looking at the World Cup prize money for example, it is clear to see further monetary matters in football. Male champions in football collectively as a team receive around £27.3 million, whereas female winners receive less than 10% of that, standing at £1.56 million. Furthermore, performance based pay is another area of monetary inequality, where any male footballers eliminated in the first round receive £6.34 million – more than four times that of female champions!

Wayne Rooney earns more in one hour than Women’s Captain Steph Houghton earns in one year

The disparity between the two sexes is shocking. The England team put on a spectacular performance at the 2015 Women’s World Cup, coming third; whereas the year before, England men were shamefully booted out at the knock out stages. However, female England captain, Steph Houghton reportedly earns £65,000 a year, with sponsorship deals, yet England captain Wayne Rooney earns £300,000 a week just from on pitch earnings. To put that into perspective, Rooney earns more than £536 in one hour, than Houghton earns in one week!

So, what is the reasoning for this; is women’s football simply an unpopular sport?

It is quite the opposite, as football is the most popular sport for women in the UK. It can be argued that female football is played at a slower pace than men, and the technicalities of the game are emphasised rather than aggressive and fast play which is synonymous with male footballers. However, that should not be overlooked, but rather praised. Opinions such as Oliver mentioned above allow those to assume that female footballers are simply not as good as men.

Only 6 out of 37 Executive Committee members are female

Of course, the football league for men pockets massive amounts of money in comparison to women’s football. Yet, this is an area many are advocating for change. The FA has the strongest influence among its fans and private funders and so they must make efforts to push female football into a more positive light. With only six members out of 37 being female on the FA Executive Committee, this task does not prove to be easy to achieve.

A step towards bridging the gender gap is slowly becoming more promising. Most recently, there has been changes made to football programming on the BBC. The Women’s Football Show on BBC Two, will be showing highlights of the Women’s Super League One series, as well as airing live matches on their website. Additionally, BT Sport will stream several women’s football games live. Not only will this allow for more interest from those watching, but an increased media attention will provide female footballers the chance to be taken more seriously and display their skills.

Ultimately, to bridge the gender gap in football, both in the sense of status and money, more efforts from the FA need to be put forward to achieve this goal for there to be positive changes on a wider scale. These positive changes may be the start of a wave of fans turning their attention towards women’s football leagues and a step towards equality in the industry.

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