As the FIFA Women’s World Cup commences, so does the oft repeated demand by the athletes for equality with the male players in terms of respect and pay. This comes after the total raised for the final prize came up to $150 million, only a third of the final prize for the men’s tournament played in Qatar which summed up to $440 million.
This is also following multiple promises and commitments made by FIFA to end the gender pay gap, and the announcement of a new payment model that said it will provide every Women’s Cup player with “guaranteed remuneration for their achievements.” However, it is evident that the promised level of equality has not yet been reached. 23 members of the Australian team, the Matildas, have released one of many videos surfacing around the internet asking for equal treatment for the Women’s World Cup. They expressed their frustration in the video, saying:
“Seven hundred and thirty-six footballers have the honour of representing their countries on the biggest stage this tournament. Yet many are still denied the basic right to organise and collectively bargain.”
“Collective bargaining has allowed us to ensure we navigate the same conditions [as the men’s team] with one exception. FIFA will still only offer women one quarter as much prize money as men for the same achievement.”
The gender pay gap in sports
The gender pay gap in sports, especially football, exists to perpetuate a misogynistic narrative that women’s sports simply isn’t exciting enough to compete with the male counterpart. In 2022, a survey conducted by Durham University consisting of almost 2000 male football fans in the UK found that most still support “openly misogynistic attitudes.” The result of this is that viewership for the female versions of sports is far less, and so female athletes are paid less for putting in more work.
This stereotype of female sports being less entertaining was challenged by a video made by Orange, which displayed a compilation of tense moments and technical skills in the sport of football accompanied by loud cheering and applause which was edited in. At the end of the video, it was revealed that every clip had featured women players. In the current day, many female athletes are not compensated enough for sports to be a full time career, and have to work other jobs as well which may impact their ability to put work and effort into their sport. This ultimately creates a cycle, locking women out of sports, and setting and incredibly high bar to cross for every female athlete to even make it into the professional sphere.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino says that their ambition for the following World Cups in 2026 and 2027 is to end the pay gap entirely, but the players want confirmation that this is not an empty promise. Until then, FIFA has pledged to give every player at least $30,000 for making it into the group stage and every member of the winning team $270,000 to take home. This is still a major step forward considering the average annual global salary of a female footballer is $14,000. Nothing stands to discredit the efforts that have already been made to level out the playing field for female athletes, but there are always more steps to be taken towards equality.