It has been almost four years since the news broke that the Australian men’s Olympic basketball team had been given business class tickets to London, while the women’s team travelled to the UK in economy.
The incident prompted widespread criticism of Basketball Australia and forced them to change their travel policy to ensure it was gender equitable.
We have come a long way in women’s sport since then.
By the end of the London Olympics, 20 of the 35 medals for Australia were won by women (including the Opals who won bronze).
We’ve witnessed the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup, seen Australia’s most historic footrace – the Stawell Gift – offer equal prize money for men and women, and we’ve just recently witnessed the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League cricket take place in our sporting grounds and on our televisions.
Last year, women’s AFL matches were screened live on free-to-air TV for the first time and we’re currently charging towards the establishment of an Australian Rules women’s football league next year.
It’s an exciting time for women’s sport.
But the road is long.
Last week, the Federal Sports Minister, Sussan Ley, along with Australian Sports Commission chairman, John Wylie, wrote to the top 30 funded sporting organisations in Australia demanding gender equitable travel policies if they wanted any hope of a slice of the Government’s $134 million funding pie.
In her letter, Ms Ley said: “We can think of no defensible reason why male and female athletes should travel in different classes or stay in different standard accommodation.”
The crackdown prompted Football Federation Australia to declare the Matildas would receive business class travel and more luxurious accommodation if they qualify for the World Cup, held once every four years. But they won’t receive improved travel conditions for other international tournaments.
Professional Footballers Australia’s player relations executive, Kathyrn Gill, who is also a current Matilda’s player, last week said it was “simply unacceptable” that female athletes were still being denied the same conditions as men.
It is indeed unacceptable. What boggles the mind is that in 2016, nearly four years on from the Boomers and the Opals controversy, we’re still having this conversation.[…]