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Weekly Digest #79

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In this digest-


1. Cover Story- Pay-gap in sports : A tale of gender bias


2. Happiness Quotient From Around The World


3. Did You Know?


4. Entertainment Quotient




-Cover Story-


Pay-gap in sports : A tale of gender bias

By: Agastya Rao


(photo credit-latimes.com)

The gender pay gap is already a hotly debated topic, as it has been for the last few years. Within the gender pay gap, there are various fields in which the pay-gap exists. The one which I shall focus on is the gender pay-gap in sports. With the recent settlement that the United States Women's National Team (USWNT) came to with the US Soccer Federation, this disparity in pay has come back into the spotlight.


What was the USWNT settlement? Why and when did it happen and what are the various sports with pay-gaps? These are some of the questions I shall attempt to answer.

Note: In this article Soccer may also be called football


1.Pay Gap in Soccer-


Case Study- USWNT Settlement

A few months before the Women’s Football World Cup in 2019, the USWNT sued the US Soccer Federation on grounds of discrimination on the basis of gender. Women were earning lesser money in performance bonuses compared to men and continued to face discrimination in working conditions. Coincidentally this lawsuit was filed on International Women’s Day, which is a poetic fit to the lawsuit.


The USWNT originally filed the claim in 2016, but due to the transition between the Obama- Trump administration the claim was delayed/lost and permission to sue the Soccer federation was granted 2 years later. The suit had to be filed within 90 days, and so it was filed before the World Cup.


A quick background- When the contracts of the USWNT had originally been reworked, the players asked for an equal contract to that of the men’s team, but this demand was rejected and the players were forced to accept contracts that offered unequal pay in order to continue playing football. This led to them calling for a strike because they were worried about it affecting the NWSL- National Women’s Soccer league.



Some stark examples of discrimination

Example 1- World Cup Win Bonus: For winning the women’s Soccer World Cup, the team would get a collective 2.5 Million USD, and if the Men’s team had won the World Cup then they would get bonuses of a collective 9.38 Million USD.


Example 2- Qualifying for the Fifa World Cup: If the women’s soccer team qualified for the world cup they would earn 750,000 as a collective bonus, while if the Men’s team had qualified for the World Cup, they would earn 2.5 Million USD as a collective bonus. For each final round win in the World cup qualifiers, women would get $3000 per player, as opposed to the $18,125 the Men’s team would get.



The FIFA Pay Gap-



FIFA paid a sum of 38 Million USD to the winning team of the World Cup (In this case France, 2018) and the winning Women’s team (USA) was paid only 4 Million USD, which is a far cry in comparison to what the Men’s winners would get paid.


Infact, the US Soccer Federation blamed the FIFA prize money for their bonuses, saying that they pay as per the FIFA prize money. However, this is not actually true as the bonuses don't actually appear to have any connection to the FIFA figures (For example, the Men’s team in their contract earns $218,750 per point made in the World Cup). This figure was made not by FIFA but by the US Soccer Federation. Goes to show how easy it continues to be for organizations to create their own set of lies when it comes to downplaying gender equality.


Naysayers often point to men’s sports teams being better performers, as their logic for paying them better than women’s teams. But in this case, what makes this discrimination even more tough to justify (using the discriminators’ logic) is the fact that the US Women’s Soccer team is far more successful than the Men’s team. The statistics speak for themselves- The Women’s World Cup that last happened was won by the US Women’s Team. The Women’s team has a higher win percentage, with a 81% win rate in the years 2002-2015, as opposed to the 41% win rate of the Men’s team.


The Women’s team has also seen a burst in popularity over the past 5 years, and is said to also be more well known than the Men’s team. Hard, solid and undeniable facts. Yet, they get paid less than their male counterparts.


US Soccer’s Reasoning-

Another argument from US Soccer regarding the reason for the unfair pay was stating that the Women’s team have perks like insurance, maternity leave etc which the Men’s team does not get. However, the insurance tax paid was $1100 and the other perks once compared to the bonuses paid to the Men’s team still were the winners in the pay gap.


Conclusion of the lawsuit-

The players of the USWNT originally calculated a figure of 67 million as the dues they were owed due to the unfair pay gap; however they were finally settled to the US Soccer paying a total of 22 Million USD, with 2 Million USD to be given to a player’s future or to a charity of their choice (Maximum $50,000 per player). USWNT is in talks with US Soccer to give equal bonuses for the World Cup despite the fixed bonuses as per FIFA, and this is one more step towards equality in the Gender Pay Gap.


The next step should be making the FIFA bonuses equal for men and women, which will be tricky as FIFA does not individually give television rights for the World Cups. This in turn means that calculating the revenue brought in by the Women’s World cup will be hard. We know what this means - this will be used as an excuse for saying the women’s matches don’t bring in adequate revenue to the sponsors, which justifies lower bonuses. I feel that the real conversation here should be about dissociating the bonus payments from revenues. It is somewhat a chicken-and-egg tale - unless more efforts are made to promote women’s sports, it will not be easy to get better revenues. I am sure that our world shall move towards a more gender equal one, but it all depends on us!


2. Pay Gap in Tennis:



Case Study- Dubai Tennis Championships

The Dubai Tennis Championships is a premiere tournament on the International tennis circuit for both Women and Men, and the tournaments have attracted many Grand Slam winners and Number 1 and Top 10 Players as well. Both tournaments are equally ranked as an ATP 500 and WTA500 tournament in the Men’s Association of Tennis Professionals tour and the Women’s Tennis Association tour.


(photo credit- The Conversation)


{left to right: Prize money in ATP singles; Prize money in WTA singles}

(photo credit-perfect-tennis.com)


In The Dubai Tennis Championships, on the Women’s side the Winner, Jeļena Ostapenko will get 500 ranking points but $104,180 as compared to what the Men’s winner would get, which is $523,740. Both tournaments are of the same level, and happen at the same place and still there is a pay-gap of almost $400,000 between the Men’s and the Women’s sides. The pay gap is so much so that the Women’s runner up will shockingly receive only 20% of the Men’s Winner’s Prize money.

The Women’s singles Runner Up will make $64,000 which is much lower in comparison to the $282,300 that the Men’s Runner Up gets, which is a gap of over 200,000.


Former World Number 1 Andy Murray also spoke out against this pay gap saying that this gap in prize money is “a step back”. Also saying that since “both events are of the same size and are only one week apart, that is quite a discrepancy”.

Tennis is known for being pretty fair in terms of equal prize money, with prize money at the top tier Grand Slams being equal. While some tournaments at the ATP and WTA level may have similar or the same prize money, it does differ quite a few times.

So why does this gap exist? If at the higher levels the prize money is equal, shouldn’t the same be followed in events that are of a premiere but slightly lower strata?


Conclusion-

Gender pay gaps exist across various sports such as Cricket and Basketball too, and it is usually “blamed” on low viewership as the reason for lower salaries as compared to the Men’s sports. However, this can be changed if the sport is promoted more, with the example of the US Women’s national Soccer Team who won the World Cup and became a very popular team.



In order for the Gender pay gap to stop or at least decrease, our society has to first start treating girls and boys equally and rejoice equally in the birth of a girl as they would for a boy. Real change may take time to arrive, but is not impossible. For change to become effective, we need to start by changing mindsets. So, debate this topic with your friends and family - even if one person can adopt a forward thinking approach, it is a small step towards a larger goal.


At The Paperless Press we do hope that the Gender Pay Gap stops in the future and that true equality is achieved. If we humans work together, treat everyone equally and promote Women’s sports this can be achieved.


True sportsmanship is having no gender pay-gap.


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By: Abhimanyu Rao


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By: Mihir Rao

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Entertainment quotient for the week:


Netflix

Downfall: The Case against Boeing


Disney+

Welcome to Earth


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