Gender “disparities” in football.

equal play, equal pay : This is the slogan adopted by the footballers of the US national team and adopted by many national selectors.

Since the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and even more so since 2019 in France, the issue of income inequality between male and female footballers has been a hot topic of discussion.

The topic of inequalities has been put back at the center of economic policy debate, and inequalities between men and women are among those that French men and women consider “least acceptable”. It is therefore not surprising that football, which is not isolated from society, is faced with this question of social justice.

a claim of the international people

Players’ “pay” demands have multiplied: Australian players refused to tour the United States in 2015; complaint by American stars against their federation in 2016; the Danish players’ strike in 2017; In May 2019 a complaint by US internationals against their federation for discrimination came before a Los Angeles court; Strike for equal minimum wage in Spain in October 2019; 2019 World Cup boycott by Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg; Canadian national team strike in 2023; etc.

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As a result of these claims, many federations have entered into parity agreements between international and international: for example, in England, Brazil, Norway and Spain, bonuses (in level or share) and selection conditions for football players and women’s football players have been put in place The latest nation is Wales in 2023.

In the United States, collective bargaining agreements for the men’s and women’s national teams are now identical: this historic agreement makes it possible to receive equal pay and guarantees equal bonuses between women’s and men’s teams for all competitions, including cups. World.

Pay disparities among sportspersons: a dual socio-historical and economic process

We know that the pay gap between footballers and footballers, and between players and women players more generally, has a socio-historical origin. The roots of gender inequality can be found in the birth of modern sport, in which for nearly half a century women have been sidelined for various reasons.

Professionalization of men’s sports teams during the 20th centuryI The century, particularly in football, has not contributed to the reduction of inequalities between players and women. After England and Scotland at the end of the XIXI At the turn of the century, the European or South American nations where football was founded took it to a professional level between the late 1920s and early 1930s, hence less training and less adequate equipment. This affects the physical and technical abilities of the players and, consequently, the attractiveness to the public and the media (weakness of demand).

However, it should be noted that from the 1920s to the 1960s, men’s football, even professional, was not at its peak. At that time, many footballers were forced to take up other professions to make a living and World War II put the brakes on the expansion of football. After the truce, the championship resumes with remuneration that still does not allow all players to make a living from football.

Wages did not increase until the 1960s, with players particularly in France and England under pressure to remove the wage cap. It is therefore not surprising that women’s football did not develop at this time, despite restrictions on the use of stadiums and the fact that football remained a men’s sport: indeed there were few who at the time believed in the traditional relationship between men and women. challenged division.

Thus, until the mid-1960s, despite significant social changes in Western society after World War II, women’s football remained at an embryonic stage.

Pay disparities are not unique to football

Over the years, sports federations have adopted egalitarian policies in the distribution of prize money between men and women, especially in individual sports. And this, especially since the competitions take place in the same place and at the same time.

Tennis has taken a leading role since the 1973 US Open in New York was the first tournament to bring equality in prize pools for men and women. Since then, many unions have followed suit. In 2017, a BBC poll reported 35 sports that distribute equal prize money between men and women while 9 favor men. The most unequal sports are team sports.

Among female players in team sports, the highest-paid US Championship (Women’s National Basketball Association or WNBA) basketball players in the world earned an average of over 60,000 euros per year at the end of 2010. NBA men, on average the highest paid in the world, earn nearly 100 times more.

It should be noted that women sportspersons ranging from tennis players to those practicing some individual sports are in a better position: in 2022, the highest-paid team player, American basketball player Candace Pekar, came only eleventh among sports women. . Highest paid female sportsperson in the world – and 97% of her income was non-sporting.

In this hierarchy of team sport salaries, European female soccer players (France, Germany, England) are third, fourth and fifth behind WNBA women’s basketball players and Australian netball players, which is basically a derivative of women’s basketball. American football players come in seventh after Danish handball players.

Significant pay disparities between countries, between clubs and between players

In 2017, the highest-earning women’s league on average was the French first division, with gross annual salaries of around 42,000 euros. It is followed by the German League (37,000 Euros), the English League (30,000 Euros) and the American League (23,000 Euros).

Inequalities between female and male footballers vary greatly from country to country: the average gross annual salary of men is 113 times higher than that of women in England, but 27 times higher in France and 8 times higher in Sweden. This ratio, as we’ve outlined, depends on the respective size of the “cake” to be shared.

According to the newspaper, in 2022 in France TeamThe average gross salary in the women’s D1 is similar as of 2017, with strong disparities between clubs. The highest average salary is at Olympique Lyonnais: it is equal to the average salary in the men’s Ligue 2 (12,000 euros gross per month), while the lowest at ASJ Soyox (currently in great financial difficulty), the gross is less than the monthly minimum wage. (1,700 Euros in 2023). The wage difference between the two “big guys”, OL and PSG, and others is significant (players earn 3–4 times less), which explains the results in the league: OL won 16 of the last 17 championships, in favor of PSG. Only the time of 2020-2021 is left.

The future of women’s football: training, professionalization and arbitration

The difference in pay between footballers and footballers has been explained by the lower income generated by women’s football than its male counterparts: in recent years, about 2 billion for men versus 34 million for women, a ratio of 1 to 50. Report. Too short to share. To reduce these disparities, it is necessary to try to increase the income associated with women’s football.

At present, the most reliable development strategy is that of England. With a view to the organization of the Women’s Euro in 2021, the English Federation (FA) introduced a series of reforms in 2016, the first of them relating to the commercialization of the twelve clubs participating in its women’s championship. The FA has also adopted a “league” type of governance, independent of the amateur sector and men’s football, which allows exclusive management of sponsorship.

One of the aims of these FA reforms is to increase the competitiveness of the Championship and increase demand for women’s football (attendances and spectators). Another aim of the reforms is to limit the dependence of women’s teams on funding from men’s clubs.

The logo of the English Women’s Super League, sponsored by Barclays.

The reform has been fruitful as the FA managed to renegotiate the “naming” of Super League in 2021 at a sum of ten million pounds per year over three years (with Barkley), compared to five million for the previous season. She also managed to sell the TV rights to the competition for a record eight million pounds. In addition, there has been a significant increase in attendance, with this year averaging over 5,000 spectators (1,000 before the reform).

Female footballers in the English league have benefited from this increased interest (in terms of TV viewership) in English women’s football as salaries have increased and possibly exceeded the average salary of female players in France, especially for the 2022–2023 season. during. And athletic performance follows.

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