On International Women’s Day, Sportside was delighted to see the findings of a BBC Sport study which showed that most sports now offer equal winning prize money to men and women.
The corporation surveyed 48 sports whereby 37 offered prize money – and found that only three sports (football, golf and basketball) did not offer parity at its major events.
The Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Women’s sport continues to go from strength to strength,” said “It’s absolutely right that the rewards match that success and we have seen a significant levelling up in the prize money on offer in recent years.
“We must continue to push for greater participation, employment, commercial opportunities and visibility in the media for women’s sport, to keep up this momentum.”
The BBC last completed this study in 2017, having started it in 2014, and found that cricket was the sport to achieve the biggest closing of the gender pay gap.
Hockey, cliff diving, surfing and wrestling had also achieved parity at at least one major competition in that time.
But cricket has been the trailblazer with The Hundred offering equal prize money for its inaugural season this year
The Hundred – set for its inaugural season in 2021 – will offer equal prize money in the men’s and women’s tournaments, and the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup saw champions Australia given £716,635, which was reportedly equal to what the winners of the men’s tournament will win in 2021.Meanwhile the winners of the 2022 Women’s World Cup will get £2.5m while in 2019 England’s men £3.1m) in 2019 from a total pot of around £12m.
“We’ve made a very strong statement that we wanted to have that equal prize money because it really demonstrates how much we really value women’s cricket and the women’s game moving forwards,” Beth Barrett-Wild, head of The Hundred women’s competition, told BBC Sport.
“That real tangible action hopefully will drive others to come with us.
“If you want to authentically say that you value men’s and women’s sport exactly the same, then you need to award equal prize money.”
The study focused on the prize money awarded to competition winners and did not include wages, bonuses or sponsorship.
In hockey, the inaugural Pro League in 2019 saw the men’s and women’s winning teams each earn £178,969, while a women’s Euro Hockey League was introduced for the 2019-20 season offering equal prize money to the men’s league.
Wrestling’s Ranking Series made prize money equal in 2018, and the World Surf League achieved parity in 2019, while cliff diving’s World Series will offer equal prize money of £6,126 to its male and female athletes from 2021
Britain’s leading men’s and women’s cycling races – the Tour of Britain and the Women’s Tour – have had equal prize money since 2018 with stage winners receiving £3,125 while the overall champions get £12,499.
But the largest gap by far remains in football. The USA women won the women’s World Cup in 2019 – an event watched by over 1 billion people – yet were paid nine times less (£2.8m) than the French team (£27.2m) that won the men’s World Cup in 2018.
However the women’s prize money was double that of the previous tournament in 2015, and Fifa has said it will double again for the 2023 edition.
In England meanwhile, the FA Cup men’s winners will receive £1.8m compared with the women’s winners who will get £25,000. It is a disparity the FA are keen to address.
“While we recognise there is currently a significant disparity between prize money for men’s and women’s competitions, these are determined by the amounts of money generated through commercial revenue, including national and international broadcast rights,” an FA spokesperson told BBC Sport.
“The [men’s] FA Cup is the biggest revenue producer for the FA. This revenue enables us to invest back into football at all levels and we have made significant progress to develop the women’s game as a result.”
Golf is also a notable area of concern: at the 2019 Open, the winner Shane Lowry won £1.9m, while Sophia Popov, the winner of the Women’s British Open in 2020 was awarded £483,924.
There is hope, however. A spokeswoman for the R&A, which organises The Open and Women’s British Open, said its “stated aim” is to close the prize money differential.
She said: “We have been able to make substantial progress in that regard and are working hard to build the commercial effectiveness of the championship to increase revenues and support further investment in future.
“We fully recognise that we have much more to do but we can’t do it alone. We all have to play our part in growing the commercial success of women’s golf at the highest level and that means everyone from golf bodies to sponsors and the media.”
Another sign that golf is getting there is the new ISPS Handa World Invitational event. Co-sanctioned by the men’s and women’s European Tours and LPGA, it will feature separate men’s and women’s tournaments in July, each with equal fields competing for equal prize money.
Over in Poland over the weekend, British women were leading the way at the European Indoor Championships.
Teenager Keely Hodgkinson looks like a star of the future as she won 800m gold for Great Britain.
Hodgkinson, the 19-year-old Wigan athlete, said being fearless helped her achieve. “I didn’t think about the pressure because I’m only 19,” she said. “I still have things to learn. I kept the relaxed state that I was in during the semis.”
And sisters Cindy Sember and Tiffany Porter added to Britain’s medal haul with silver and bronze medals in the 60m hurdles. Both battled hard to earn their success with Sember having recovered from a ruptured Achilles while Porter, who is now 33, gave birth to a daughter in 2019.
Great Britain were understood to be set a target of six to 10 medals at these championships, but they finished with 12, equalling their record tally from two years ago in Glasgow.
Steve Cram, 1983 1500m world champion, said there had been “encouraging” British displays and singled out Hodgkinson for special praise.
“She can run from the front or she can sit off,” said Cram. “Today she showed real maturity and showed how strong she could be when she needed to turn it on.”
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