Congratulations to Charlotte Edwards and her magnificent England cricketers, who finished runners-up to defending champions Australia in the World Twenty20. Once more, they have shown the menfolk exactly how it’s done – no in-fighting, no bitching to the media, just dedication to the task and professional excellence – even though they’re not a squad of full-time professional sportspeople.
During their sojourn in Sri Lanka, as you may have read, the women players received a daily allowance of £60 from the ICC (the game’s international governing body), while the men got £100. Edwards – rather tongue-in-cheek, I suspect – suggested that it might be because men eat a lot more than women.
Of course, it’s not. It’s because the authorities accord much less importance to the women’s game and the players than they do to the men.
It’s happened historically in other sports too. The FA gave their World Cup squad members £40 a day allowance for the five weeks of the World Cup back in 2007 – five weeks, when most were taking unpaid leave from their day jobs.
The FA claim they have rectified these problems. Except, for example, Casey Stoney, the England captain, still works two part-time jobs in addition to playing semi-professional football just to support herself. And as you know if you read my interview with her earlier this summer, Katie Chapman has been vocal about the difficulties of being an elite footballer in the UK and a mother.
I asked the FA what kind of financial support the women got for their World Cup campaign in Germany last year, and got this response:
All the England players at last year’s World Cup were either on a central contract, meaning they get paid by the FA to play for England, or they played professionally in the US.
I asked whether they also got a daily subsistence allowance or expenses, meaning they weren’t out of pocket for additional costs such as food, but didn’t get an answer to that.
Still, we shouldn’t be surprised – it’s just the same as the gender pay gap in other walks of life.
The difference in prize money between men’s and women’s tournaments, now, I can even sort of understand the defence for that. Less media interest, less advertising, fewer sponsors = the prize pot for the women is smaller.
But the criticism about equal prize money in tennis was always that the women played fewer sets than the men and so had less time on court. Well, that doesn’t apply to cricket or football. The governing bodies of all these sports have the resources to promote the women’s game and encourage financial backers to come forward. And they should.
But will they?