The Economist reports that the matches drew in the largest audiences in history smashing TV viewing records to be the most-watched TV programme of the year in some countries.
So, let’s call a spade a spade. The pay gap between the women and men’s world cup prize money is unacceptable. There is no justifiable excuse for the continued pay disparity.
The message this pay disparity is sending out to our young boys and girls is one that will create issues for both genders in future. We are basically telling our young women that they are worth less than our young men and effectively telling our young men that they are better than young women. We are telling young women that despite the inequality in pay, they should simply shut up and put up with it because nothing is going to change.
I am glad the United States women’s team chose not to shut up and put up with this blatant discrimination. Their strong voice and excellence on the pitch were desperately needed to shine a light on this issue.
It seemed that people wanted the United States women’s team to fail because of their defiance and boldness. They have been attacked because they chose to stand strong and firm in their demand for equal pay and their decision to sue the United States Soccer Federation just three months before the start of the world cup tournament.
Their confidence was called arrogance and they were even criticised for celebrating with too much exuberance. They have been disrespected by their own president because they voiced their views on the state of politics and in particular the treatment of minorities in the United States, yet these women have not simply shut up and put up with it.
Their victory was sweet in the face of such adversity. Chants of ‘equal pay’ erupted in the stadium and it is great to see the team triumph despite the attacks.
Coming back to the issue of money. The gap in prize money needs addressing. Apparently, FIFA president Gianni Infantino is discussing the possibility of doubling the prize money for the Women’s World Cup.
Doubling the prize money is not enough! Doubling the women’s prize to $60m will not solve the problem. He needs to be doing more.
If the women’s prize money cannot be raised to match the men’s then the prize money for both genders should be slashed to ensure that equal pay is paid to everyone who plays in the world cup irrespective of gender.
I am always shocked by the staggering amounts we choose to pay male footballers, especially when compared to what we pay professionals such as doctors, nurses, ambulance crews, teachers, social workers and firefighters, some of whom put their lives on the line on a daily basis.
Footballers kick a ball around, yet we value them more than professionals that save lives. That is not right.
My experience working in the gender diversity space, helping organisations develop female leaders has highlighted clearly that women tend to be underinvested in purely on the basis of gender.
Women’s football is no different. We have seen the difference investment has made to women’s football and the game definitely needs the financial investments to continue to grow.
It is time for compensation to be fair across all sports with the women’s games being just as equally funded and supported as the men. We all stand to gain from this investment. Why do we fail to see that?