The U.S. women’s soccer team defeated Japan on Sunday to win the World Cup. For their dominant performance, the team will collect $2 million from FIFA, the international body that runs the tournament.
The championship prize for women pales in comparison to the $8 million in prize money awarded to men’s teams who lose in the first round. Every men’s team was awarded $1.5 million just for participating.
And they aren’t even the worst offenders.
The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) has been growing and developing for seven seasons now. There are just five teams in the league but the rosters are filled with women we’ve rooted for in the 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as top NCAA Division I athletes and other high-caliber players. They are some of the best hockey players in the world, yet none are paid.
Salaries for women playing at the top: $1,000 per year. If they win.
How do we expect to build a sporting culture that nurtures female athletes if we’re not willing to pay them to put in the long hours necessary to become athletes?
The good news is that the times seem to be changing, at least in the UK.
Athletics, bowls, skating, marathons, shooting, tennis and volleyball have all paid equal prize money since before 2004.
In the past decade, nine more sports have starting doing so with five – diving, sailing, taekwondo, windsurfing and some cycling events – achieving equality in the past couple of years.
[ UK Minister for Sport Helen ] Grant was encouraged by the number of sports which do pay equal prize money adding: “In 70% of sports there is parity and that’s great and that’s what we want. But we also want the others moving in that direction too and I feel it will happen when the full potential of women’s sport is seen and realised.”