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Putting sport’s gender pay gap in perspective


Putting sport\'s gender pay gap in perspective

For those who want equality in sport, or who think that male athletes being paid more than female athletes is sexist, consider the following numbers.

In European rugby, the men’s Six Nations competition was won last weekend by England. They played five games in front of crowds ranging from 67,000 to 82,000 people.

In contrast, when England’s women’s rugby team met Scotland for their Six Nations clash in February, the official attendance was 500 fans.

That isn’t a typo. At Broadwood Stadium (capacity 8,000), on the February 5, 2016, only 500 fans turned up to watch England v Scotland in the RBS Six Nations women’s rugby competition.

To put that crowd into perspective, in the Vanarama National League (the fifth tier of English senior men’s football) Lincoln City played Kidderminster Harriers last weekend in front of 2,100 fans.

Still not convinced? Here are some more figures.

In the USA, the most-watched sporting event of 2015 was Superbowl 49 with a television audience of 114.44 million. In fact 43 of the 50 most-watched sporting events were NFL games.

The most-watched women’s sporting event was the FIFA Women’s World Cup final, coming in at number 26 with 26.7 million viewers.

That’s a big number; but then that was the final.

The average crowd at the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup was 26,000, only 1,000 more than the average crowd at the FIFA 2011 Under-20 Men’s World Cup. The average crowd at the FIFA 2014 Men’s Football World Cup was 53,500.


While women’s international football can occasionally attract large audiences, the average crowd at a National Women’s Soccer League is 5,046. The lowest attendance in the 2015 season was a paltry 953 fans.

It should be noted that this is one of the largest women’s football competitions in the world, and that the USA are reigning world and Olympic women’s football champions.

The most-watched netball competition in the world is the ANZ Championship. The average crowd for this competition in 2015 was 4,072. Such a figure is comparable with the average crowd for a French second division rugby game (4,222) and the average attendance at a Major League Lacrosse game (4,384).

The average Bundesliga (German men’s football) crowd is 43,500.


Of course, I’m cherry-picking my figures to a degree in order to prove a point.

It is true that women’s tennis and golf do attract large audiences. But in general, men’s sport dominates in terms of spectators and television audiences. As such, the men are the ones earning the money and therefore should be being paid more accordingly.

Is this sexist? Of course it isn’t. These numbers prove that even women don’t like watching women’s sport. Five hundred people turning up to watch an international rugby match played between two bitter rivals is a joke.

I would suggest that the disparity exists simply because men and women have different tastes. Many women would probably watch The Bachelor rather than a game of basketball. That isn’t sexist, that’s just how it is.

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