As with many large industries in the UK, most of the country’s biggest sports currently have a significant gender pay gap. The difference in pay between males and females involved in sports varies, but one of the largest longstanding examples of pay inequality is women’s football.
One of the biggest revelations with regards to football’s gender pay gap came from a report by FIFPro, a representative organisation for football players worldwide. In a December 2017 report, they found that 88 per cent of players in the Women’s Super League in England earn less than £18,000 a year. That is 0.7 per cent less than the average for men in the Premier League, which now comes to £2.6 million.
This lack of investment in women’s football has consequences. Most importantly, it hinders the growth of the sport – FIFpro’s report also showed that 58 per cent of the competition’s players have considered quitting their careers for financial reasons.
This inequality doesn’t end with the players, either. Football’s gender pay gap reaches up to the governing bodies of the sport. Figures from the Football Association – the governing body of association football in England – showed in 2018 that the hourly pay for male employees at the organisation was 23.3% higher than that for a female employee.
The figures from the FA were revealed as part of the UK government’s legal requirements which meant that all UK companies with more than 250 employees were obligated to publish their pay gap statistics in full.
The factors at play
One of the key influences on the gender gap we see in football is the lack of compensation for clubs, even at the highest level. One of the biggest factors which perpetuates this is a lack of funding from sponsorship.
The 2015 Women’s FA Cup secured a sponsorship deal with Scottish energy company SSE, in one of the biggest deals in the recent history of women’s football. However, it was later revealed that participating team Notts County would actually stand to lose money from participating in the final of the tournament, as the total prize money for winning was just £8,600 Additionally, clubs in the final did not directly get a share of gate receipts or TV revenue.
There are some signs of improvement. According to figures by UEFA, between 2013 and 2016 global revenues from media coverage of UEFA Women’s Champions League markets increased by more than 92%. However, there is still a clear lack of overall coverage in comparison with the men’s Premier League.
Participation in football has also grown amongst women. According to the Active People Survey, the number of females participating in the sport increased by 250,000 between 2014 and 2017. Governing bodies such as Uefa have also launched initiatives aiming to increase young girls’ participation in the sport.
The multiple benefits that a sport like football can have for its participants mean that we should always encourage as many people to get involved as possible – male or female. The tide is turning, but there’s still a long way to go to achieving true gender equality in Britain’s biggest sport.
Women in Sport Summit comes to Twickenham Stadium in London on 19th June 2019. To download a brochure, click here.