Women’s Football – How the World Cup can help the gender gap in sports.

 

2018 was the year of Russia hosting the World Cup, 2019 is the year France host the World Cup.

womens football

The difference between the two years is the gender of the players.

My question is, why does that have to define the viewing numbers, advertisements or the pay that the players receive?

Recently there has been so much on gender equality, and it feels like we’re finally creating a society that is inclusive. There is however one place where it seems so distant it is almost archaic. Sport.

On average a male England football player will be earning £150,000-£200,000 per week plus each world cup match adding £1500 for a win, £1000 for a draw and £500 for a loss. In comparison, the Women’s team earns £25,000 – £30,000 a year. Add the possible £1500 for a win, £1000 for a draw and £500 for a loss per match and you are on a similar salary to an office job. So why is there such a difference in pay? The main reason that clubs pay so much to male players is that male football has a much larger following so the money made from it is considerably higher. Male footballers also have a lot of high profile sponsors. In return for advertising, pay the clubs a lot of money.  This means that there is more disposable income to give to the players.

 

History of Women’s Football and the Women’s World Cup

 

Women’s professional football is still relatively new. Women’s sports, in general, has only started to become popular in the last few decades.  During the first World War, while the men were fighting, women’s football was as popular as men’s. The beginnings of international games starting up. When the war was over, unfortunately, women’s football had a lot of prejudice.  There were renewed concerns over the presence of women in football, and due to the jealousy of the crowds and interest women’s football was attracting and gender liberation campaigns,  the Football Association banned all women’s teams from playing on grounds affiliated to the FA. The FA’s excuse for the ban was ‘Football damages women’s bodies’. Unfortunately, most teams disbanded after the ban, unable to find alternative venues.

Skip forwards several decades to 1969 when the Women’s Football Association was founded due to an increased female interest in football (caused by Englands 1966 World Cup triumph). It takes two more years after its foundation to force the men’s Football Association to lift the restrictions of the playing rights of women’s teams. 1971 was also the year that the Mitre Challenge Trophy was created for English women’s teams. This competition would later become the FA Women’s cup. It still takes until 1983 for FA to affiliate themselves with WFA!

We have come a long way from the times where women had to fight to play,  but equality is far from achieved. England players are studying for other professions or working in other jobs and playing football as a second job, crazy considering if we gave the women a quarter of what the men are on they would be able to have this as a full-time well-paid occupation.

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How things are changing

 

Enough of the negatives. There is a lot to be said about the positivity and marketing around the Women’s World Cup. The BBC heavily marketing it and betting sites putting out promotions like the men’s games. Women’s sport being taken a bit more seriously which is amazing. The adverts that look to change the perception of women and disability in the sport will be seen by so many wide-eyed children.

womens world cup bbc

The #changethegame campaign that the BBC has started is something that the UK (and the world) have been yearning to see. Its bold, positive message doesn’t slate men or leave you with a sour taste in your mouth. It simply states that a body is a body, a sport is a sport, everyone should be treated the same – regardless. The BBC platforms are promoting on all their platforms it’s getting good reach and it’s a start for female sport.

Sponsors

Visa has already agreed to match their advertising of the World Cup in Russia last year. Lucozade and Head and Shoulders have also pledged to spend the same on England’s advertising as they did on the men’s World Cup.  The Women’s World Cup has hype around the competition which is not dissimilar to the male game. If this is what the youth in the country are seeing as normal and watching games as they would with big male football games then surely we will be heading into the future with bright prospects for bridging the divide.

lucazade world cup

These world cup games could be the turning point in our relationship towards women in sport. There is a following of people who are invested in the games. A lot of young women and children now have role models in these women. The Sponsors that have backed the women all have strong positive messages that align with the world cup. Most are also sponsoring the men’s team also. This is a giant leap forward for women’s football and if it continues in the direction that it’s going in, the future is bright.

The Future

For a lot of the sponsors, they have agreed to a 3-year contract. For the length of the contract, they (hopefully) will be continuing to promote women’s football. This year is also the year of the Netball World Cup which is a sport that is predominately female based. The Netball World Cup has Vitality as its main sponsor and Liverpool is hosting. This is great exposure to the British public seeing as its hosted by us. It gives another chance for women to step out of the shadow of male sport. If it continues the way it’s going, women’s sport will continue to grow in popularity.

 

My ideal would be for all sports to have both genders equally paid and equally promoted. The best thing is that doesn’t seem too far off.

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Graphic Design Assistant for JLL Fitness. Interests: Photography, Fitness, Design, Marketing, Illustration, Colours and Exercise.

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