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Lionesses’ pride unrewarded!

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We should really be used to it by now; the hype, the adulation, the inevitable disappointment. Baddiel and Skinner remain proven wrong; football is not coming home. That being said the Lionesses did the country proud in Canada and have hopefully inspired a number of youngsters to take up football in the hope of replicating their new found idols and making it to the international scene. As the media quickly pointed out, no England team had made it as far in a football world cup since the team of 1990 (yes, the one where Gazza cried) and against countries where women’s football has enjoyed enormous popularity (such as Japan, U.S.A, and Germany) that is no mean feat.

Although comparisons between the Lionesses and the 1990 Lions have been drawn, there remains one huge difference between the two teams; the salaries. However, not to single out football for criticism, many other sports pay men and women vastly different sums. For example, a female winning the LPGA US Open would be rewarded with the sum of around £500,000 whilst their male counterpart winning the PGA equivalent would receive double that. Some sports are leading the way, with tennis being a prime example; from 2007 men and women have received equal prize money at Wimbledon.

Of course, the reason for such a pay gap in sport is primarily commercial. You only have to look at how much BT was willing to pay to show the champion’s league as an illustrator of how much value the broadcasters put on male sports. As interest in female sports grows this should change and in turn salaries/prize money increase (although it is doubtful that they will increase at such a pace as to ever match men’s salaries, certainly in football anyway). However, outside of sport there remains a gender pay gap in various industries and at various levels. At boardroom level in particular there is often (albeit less than in the past) a disparity between male and female directors’ remuneration packages. The Government has sought to address equal pay by activating Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010, with regulations regarding the reporting of gender pay statistics to be produced by early 2016. Such reporting will be limited to employers with over 250 employees however it is yet to be seen how the figures would be produced or on what information they would rely (i.e. what level of employee would be included in any one grouping? Would the statistics just take the mean of the whole workforce?).

Outside of sport the gender pay gap does appear to be decreasing. In sport there remains a huge divide and it may be that Laura Bassett now has to appear in a commercial, à la Gareth Southgate, in order to receive a financial gain in any way similar to her male counterparts.

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