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It Is Acceptable For Women And Men To Be Paid Differently In Professional Sports?

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  • 1. Lionel Messi, $127 million, soccer player
  • 2. Cristiano Ronaldo, $109 million, soccer player
  • 5. Roger Federer, $9.4 million, tennis player
  • 8. LeBron James, $89 million, basketballer
  • 21. Connor McGregor, $47 million, boxer
  • 63. Serena Williams, $29.2 million, tennis

I’m sure most of these names sound familiar to most of you. According to Forbes, These are some of the highest paid athletes in the world. Serena Williams, a legendary tennis player is the only woman on the top 100 highest paid athletes. Now is when most of the feminists would pipe up and say that this is disgraceful, that this is not okay and that more women should be in this top 100, and I would agree, I mean, who wouldn’t want more female athletes on that Forbes list.. However I believe that as it currently stands, that list is completely accurate. Yes, there is unequal pay between male and female athletes, and this is okay. It is okay and acceptable for there to be pay discrepancies between male and females in the professional sporting world.

A great example of unequal pay between men and women is in soccer.. Men are generally paid more than women, and as a result, recently the USWNT have sued the US soccer association, claiming institutionalised gender discrimination against the women’s team, and are demanding upwards of $66 million in damages. This Lawsuit came off the back of the Matilda’s being paid equally to the Socceroo’s, so I guess the US Women’s team thought, why cant we have that too, so I’m here to tell you why.

Firstly, I think the Matilda’s got lucky. And the stats support this. Statistics demonstrate that women’s soccer is just nit as popular as the men’s. As a result, it doesn’t bring in as much money as the men’s, sponsors don’t invest as much into the women’s teams – as the sport doesn’t have the same demand and support behind it as the men’s do, and subsequently as a result, women should not be paid as much as the men.

The FIFA world cup, being the greatest soccer tournament in the world, is a great indication of just how popular men’s vs women’s soccer really is. For Example, x as many tickets were sold for the men’s world cup than the women’s. A massive ,01,768 tickets were sold to the men’s, compared to only 1.6 million for the women’s.

Furthermore, the men’s world cup, once again, managed to attract 3x the amount of total views than the women’s. In total, nearly half of the planets population, .572 BILLION people tuned into the men’s cup at some point throughput the tournament. Whereas for the women, a total of 1 billion people tuned into the cup. To put this into perspective, more people watched the men’s world cup final, 1.12 billion people, than every person combined who watched the women’s soccer tournament. More people tuned into one single game, than in the 52 game tournament of women’s soccer.

So in terms of sponsorships, as men have the bigger and international platform, it is more beneficial for the sponsors to sponsor a team that will get more recognition, as this will theoretically help grow their business. There is no point sponsoring a team if they don’t get acknowledged from the media or supporters to the level men’s soccer does.

Which is why teams like Manchester united, an English premier league team, currently holds a $560 million dollar agreement with Chevrolet – one of their major sponsors – which is the most valuable sponsorship in sport. Even so, this year Man u will beat their own record as they now have a 10 year 1.14 BILLION dollar deal with adidas, which will pay 114 million a year. Adidas are willing to pay this massive mount of money, due to the huge, international following men’s soccer has because they know they will get sales and attention in return, which makes the sponsorship worth it for Adidas as a brand.

In comparison, Nike, the sponsor of the US national women’s team, arguably the best women’s team in the world, only paid $27 million dollars last year to sponsor this team. If the best women’s team in the world can only manage to obtain a 27 million dollar contract, when other men’s teams like Chelsea FC, who faced relegation in their 2015 season, still managed to land a 300 million dollar sponsorship deal the season after finishing 10th, one of their worst results ever, then why should women be paid equally to men when they are clearly not on the same level?

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Just to clarify, this is not sexism. Hard core facts published by FIFA after every world cup are not sexist. These are the stats, the facts, and they don’t lie. This data, clearly highlights the obvious liking people take towards men’s soccer over women’s.

These facts also justify why the men’s world cup generated 6 billion dollars revenue compared to the mere 131 million dollars generated by the women. These numbers prove that women’s soccer is not comparable to men’s, they clearly aren’t on the same level. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it never will be on the same level, one day I truly hope it is, however as it stands in this very moment, it is so unbelievably unreasonable for women to be paid the same as men, because as a sport, it is not as popular, and as a result it doesn’t make as much money or have the same level of appeal as the men’s soccer does.. So until they are on the same level, men deserved to be paid more than women

A counter argument which most people throw around is that if women’s sport was promoted more, pushed, supported and advertised, they would rope in more money – make more money from ticket sales, sponsorships, etc.. However in sports like women’s AFL, this can have negative consequences. Kane Cornes – a pro AFL player says that there is no other sport in Australia that have been given as many leg-ups as what the AFLW has been given, yet it has still not grown very much in years.

The women’s AFL’s 2019 season featured 25% more season games than the 2018 competition. However, even though there were more games, the average attendance per game dropped by 6%, demonstrating that increasing the amount of games, doesn’t necessarily attract a bigger fan base. Similarly, the rapid expansion of the sport has resulted in the limited talent pool of available players, being spread ad thinly over the growing number of teams, consequently impacting the quality and competitiveness of the game, which ultimately contributes to the lack of interest in the sport. For example, the Australian women’s soccer team goalkeeper Brianna Davey, obviously keeps for the Matilda’s, however in between her soccer duties she plays women’s AFL. Personally, I find this a bit odd, almost as though they don’t have enough players so they have to ring around to other sports and poach their players.

Steve Price, a radio broadcaster on Triple M’s Hot Breakfast with Eddie McGuire and Luke Darcy, made some controversial comments regarding women’s AFL, claiming that governments are shaming us into supporting women’s football so that clubs can get infrastructure built, and that the amount of money the AFL in ploughing into woman’s footy is ridiculous. Price, who stated that he ‘wouldn’t cross the road’ to watch a game of women’s footy, has sparked quite the controversy over AFLW players pay, funding and the sport in general.

In terms of pay, once again I believe it is acceptable for there to be pay gaps between the two leagues. I feel like an obvious reason for this is that the women’s AFL is nowhere near as developed as the men’s. The Age described an AFLW game, Collingwood vs Melbourne, as a ‘sell out’ game, when the tickets were free. How can a game be a sell out, when the tickets weren’t sold in the first place? Price stated that the reason for the free tickets, and the continuation of free tickets for the women’s 2020 season, is that someone wouldn’t pay the same price as the men’s tickets – $27 for GA, to go see an AFLW game.

Not only ticket cost, but discrepancies between the men’s and women’s game should also be considered as reasons to not pay them the same. First of all, the men’s season is longer, 23 games compared to 11, men have an interchange cap of 90, and women don’t even have a cap – which they claim is to keep players from dangerous heat stress and to keep physical injuries to a minimum –which clearly isn’t even working because they had 11 ACL injuries in the space of 4 weeks, regardless, men don’t get that consideration, which requires the men to be fitter then the women so they can last the game, Men play 20 minute quarters, with the game finishing in 2.5 hours give or take, compared to the women who only play 15 minute quarters, with the women’s AFL claiming the game will be, and I quote, ‘done and dusted in under 2 hours’, which can be added to the list of reasons why the men need to be fitter than the women.

Furthermore, in their 2019 seasons, the men’s played a total of 207 matches, while the women only played 38, the men averaged an attendance of 36,317 people per game, vs 6,626 for the women’s – that’s with free tickets might I add, and the men’s and women’s grand finals had a total of 100,014 people vs 53,000 people respectively.

Hence, an argument being thrown around is that the men require more skill to play the sport than women, and that the women, as it currently stands, should not be paid the same as men, until their game is on the same level as the men’s, just like the soccer.

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It Is Acceptable For Women And Men To Be Paid Differently In Professional Sports? (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from
“It Is Acceptable For Women And Men To Be Paid Differently In Professional Sports?” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
It Is Acceptable For Women And Men To Be Paid Differently In Professional Sports? [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Dec. 2022].
It Is Acceptable For Women And Men To Be Paid Differently In Professional Sports? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2022 Dec 5]. Available from:
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