SYDNEY: The huge gulf between how much male and female athletes are paid is not likely to narrow in the foreseeable future, a joint British-Australian report said Thursday.
The study by advocacy group Women on Boards found the gender pay gap was in part due to the growing commercialisation of sport, where media rights and sponsorships contribute to tournaments and how much players take home.
The report, which follows up on a 2014 analysis, said “the huge pay gap in many sports is not likely to close anytime soon”.
“There are a lot of arguments put forward that women’s sport is not as physical and not as good to watch,” Women on Boards UK’s managing director Fiona Hathorn added in a statement.
“Yet this is really just an example of bias at play.
“Had our culture been used to seeing women, rather than men, play football and rugby for generations, we would find the idea of men playing these games a bit novel — it’s all a matter of perspective.”
The Gender Balance in Global Sport Report — written before the Rio Olympics last month said there was progress in cricket, where the shorter T20 game has been seen to be “significantly benefitting female players”.
But this was not the case in football, with Hathorn saying the difference in pay represented a wider problem that stemmed from the sport’s top leaders.
“The main governing bodies in world football have few women on their boards. The UK fares little better whilst Australia is making greater progress and has a professional independent board, with three senior corporate women.”
In terms of women’s representation on boards, only tennis recorded a significant increase in the percentage of female members but it had come off a base of zero percent two years ago, added the report, which sourced data from more than 600 sporting bodies.
The report’s release came just days after Australia’s new national netball league secured an improved pay deal for players, with athletes set to earn twice the previous minimum salary — from Aus$13,250 (US$9,905) to Aus$27,375.
The landmark agreement also puts pressure on the Australian Football League, which is launching a female national league next year.
The so-called Aussie Rules sport has been criticised in recent weeks for the low pay its female stars are set to take home with the base salary for most players for this first season at just Aus$5,000.