Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s highest paid athlete with earnings reported to be more than $88 million, including lucrative sponsorship deals and endorsements.

By comparison, the highest paid female football player, Alex Morgan, earns around $2.8 million.

This is just one example of the huge gender wage gap that persists in sports.

A new report has found that the situation is not likely to improve soon, as female athletes struggle to make themselves heard in a $145bn-dollar global industry governed by men.

The report, written by Women on Boards, an advocacy group based in the U.K. and Australia that campaigns for women to have the same access to directorship roles as men, found there is a “vast gender pay gap within many sports”.

It highlighted stark differences between the amounts male and female athletes receive from sponsorship, endorsements, prize money and contractual earnings.

The sports with the biggest gender pay gaps were basketball, cricket, golf and football.

Image: Word Economic Forum

Image: Word Economic Forum

The growing commercialisation of sports is one of the factors contributing to the pay discrepancy.

In tennis, for example, while Grand Slams pay the same prize money to male and female champions, the top male players consistently earn more in sponsorship and endorsements.

Claire Braund, Executive Director of Women on Boards, Australia, said in a statement that there was a view that “women’s sport is not as physical and not as good to watch”.

She continued: “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 bright spots

But there are reasons to be hopeful. Athletics is one of the “good news stories”, with the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) World Championships and annual Diamond series offering financial rewards that are “gender blind”.

“Female and male prize money is equal, if not large by comparison with other sports,” the report says.

In cricket, the shorter T20 game has been “significantly benefiting female players” by raising their profile through bigger ground audiences and TV coverage, which has increased sponsorship opportunities, although a big pay disparity remains between male and female players in the sport.

Source: World Economic Forum

Author: Yemi Olarinre