While the U.S Women’s National Football Team celebrated their fourth World Cup win, chants of ‘Equal Pay’ filled the Stade de Lyon in France, but should Women footballers be paid the same as men?
France, the winners of the Men’s World Cup last year were awarded £315 million, whereas the U.S Women’s team only received £3.2 million as a reward for winning the World Cup, but should the winner of the Women’s World Cup be paid the same as men?
While ratings increased from 2015, and Women’s World Cup Final 2019 peaking at 4.7 million in the UK (BBC), the Men’s final last year between France and Croatia peaked at 10.4 million on the BBC not forgetting that it was also shown on ITV in the UK. England were not present in either finals, and during the Men’s World Cup Final, Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Final was also live on BBC 2 – this year no other major sporting event was televised at the same time as the final in the UK. Based on views in the UK, should women footballers be paid the same as men – no.
Then if you look at the ratings world wide. 1.12 billion people watched the Men’s final according to Fifa. The figures have not yet been released for the Women’s final, although the estimate is considerably less. Although in the US around 14.3 million watched the final, up by 3 million who watched the Men’s final the year before, but there is one major difference. The US Women’s team was favourites to win and they reached the final, whereas the US Men’s team didn’t even make the World Cup. Ironically, the US Team have been the ones champion equal pay, but is that only because Women’s Football is bigger in the US compared to the Men’s game? Furthermore, should we really base the salaries of footballers based on the viewing figures nationally and worldwide?
However, this years Women’s World Cup has put the game on the map. Before the World Cup, unless you followed women’s football then you were probably unaware of most women footballers, whereas in the men’s game even if you don’t follow football you are aware of the Harry Kane’s, the Messi’s, and the Ronaldo’s of men’s football. The Women’s game, even as a football fan, I couldn’t tell you one name. The Women’s World Cup has made women footballers famous, but just because they are now famous, do they deserve equal pay?
When you think about it all footballers play 90 minutes, they train, and they are professional no matter what their gender is. The difference comes in how football is viewed. Although the Women’s World Cup was watched by millions across the world across four weeks, during the normal football season how many women’s football matches are on TV? The Women’s FA Cup Final was on BBC, but if you are subscribed to Sky Sports or BT Sport in the UK from mid August to Mid May (excluding the Champions League and Europa League finals) you can watch a men’s football match at least once a week. Women’s you can’t. Male footballers dominate the back pages – who scored what, what manager is wanted by who, who wants to leave their club, who is joining what club etc – men’s football is always in the news, whereas women’s football isn’t. However, should that really be a reason for why Men get paid more to be professional footballers than women?
I am all for equal pay, and there is equal pay in a number of other sports including Tennis. However, the difference between Tennis and Football is that women’s and men’s tennis are broadcasted the same. Every Grand Slam you can easily watch Women’s singles or Men’s singles on TV. You know the names of the top Women’s Tennis players, and the Men’s. Football, on the other hand, you don’t. However, is this down to TV rights. If women’s football was broadcasted on TV, whether free to watch or subscription through BT, Sky or Amazon Prime, would we all know the names of the stars, like we do in Tennis and Men’s Football.
Perhaps the blame on why women are not paid the same as men in football is down to TV rights. Think of the millions of pounds that the UK spends on subscription to watch sport live on BT Sport and Sky Sports. We pay to watch our team, and other teams play football. We pay to see the exciting Champions League Nights of Men’s football, but we don’t for women’s Champion League nights. We pay to see Premier League and Championship Football, which we then get caught up on who will win the league, who will be playing in Europe, and who will be relegated next season – we don’t do that with Women’s Football.
Is this all down to the media, sponsorship deals, and the way we consume football as the reason for why male footballers are paid more than women footballers?
Will we forget about the Women’s World Cup come next month when the football season starts again? Will ITV produce a TV programme celebrating how the England Women’s Football Team got to the semi-finals of the World Cup like the Men’s team last year? Will we look back at the goals that got our women’s team to the semi final, like we did with Harry Kanes, Lingard’s, Stones, Dele’s, Maguire’s goals, or the historic penalty shootout against Columbia. Will we be reminiscing over White’s goals, like we did over Kane’s? The answer will probably be no. Next summer we will have forgotten about the US Women’s Team, and their names, as we focus on the Men’s Euros across Europe, with a focus on the top male footballers of Europe and not the four time World Cup winning U.S Women’s National Team. Maybe we just get more excited over men’s football, but that can not be a reason for why male footballers are paid more, and awarded more money by FIFA and UEFA for winning a competition or the stage in the competition they reached?
Equal pay across football is a long way off, but it has to be remembered that money wasn’t always in the men’s game. Maybe equal pay is closer than we think, but only if we can access and consume women’s football the way we view men’s.
What are your thoughts on equal pay in football? Should the U.S Women’s Team received the same monetary award as the French Men’s Team?