Equal pay argument for women in sport is flawed

Whilst this is not a new story, it seems to be popping up more frequently in sports debates. It’s been bugging me for a number of weeks now, so I thought I’d get some of my thoughts on paper.

I can see the argument: women do the same work as men, in any other career there would be equal pay, so why not in sports, in particular football?

According to Deloitte the average Premier League footballer earned £1.6million last season. Wayne Rooney is said to earn £300,000 a week from his club, plus a further match fee when on England duty. But the basic salary for a female footballer is a little over £25,000 pa. This leads to awkward questions, and even more uncomfortable answers. Does this mean women are less valuable in football?

In short, the ugly answer is yes. Football clubs are businesses, and female footballers do not currently generate anywhere near the same amount of revenue that their male counterparts can boast. This is an extreme example, but please bear with me. James Rodriguez moved to Real Madrid for approximately £63million last summer. Real Madrid recouped almost half that figure in James’ shirt sales, within a week. Very few footballers can do this. But all are male.

If you went round the streets and stopped and asked people to name as many male and female footballers as they could, the results would be damning. Whilst I haven’t actually done this myself, I am 100% certain that they would know a lot more about men’s football than they would do about women’s, in the vast majority of cases. This is simply because there is more interest in men’s football. The average attendance in the English Premier League 2013/14 season was slightly over 36,000 people at every game. At the women’s equivalent, the Women’s Super League, it was only 747 – and that is with much cheaper tickets.

If you showed an advert of a male footballer promoting a product, the majority of people would know exactly who he is. Whereas if a female footballer was shown in the advert, she’d have to be in her kit with a ball at her feet, just for the audience to know what her profession was. You still wouldn’t know her name.

I’d agree that in an ideal world men and women would get paid the same across all jobs. But this isn’t an ideal world. At the moment, there’s a lot more interest, and as a result, more money in men’s football, which allows clubs to pay their players significantly higher wages. At the end of the day, footballers, whether male or female, are paid what the market dictates.

I find it surprising that we even give the equal pay argument so much airtime. It is fatally flawed. Yes women’s football is on the up, but even those who speak out in favour of equal pay know that at the moment they are wasting their time. They know that nothing can be done, but they also know that they could personally benefit from the situation, by calling for action. They’re promoting their image for their own personal gain, knowing nothing will change. In ten, twenty years time, things might be different, but women’s football is still in it’s infancy.

As always feel free to leave your views. Have a nice day.


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