Women’s football: the dream of a fair salary | Sports | German football and major international sports news | DW


When Megan Rapinoe speaks, people are listening. She and her teammates have won titles, packed stadiums and broken television viewing records. Yet they are paid less than their male counterparts in the United States.

Rapinoe even took the issue to the White House, visiting new US President Joe Biden. “Despite these victories, I have been devalued, despised and fired for being a woman. Despite all the victories, I am still paid less than the men who do the same work as me, ”she said.

In 2018, the average salary of female players in leagues around the world was revealed. At the time, female Bundesliga players in Germany were second behind the French league ($ 49,782) with an annual income of $ 43,730 (€ 37,250).

By comparison, players in the Men’s Bundesliga earned an average annual salary of 1.4 million euros.

If you ask Bundesliga clubs about this, you often don’t get an immediate response. Of course, club owners know that in European men’s club football you can earn huge sums of money and spend it again. This is not the case with women’s football.

But must it be so?

Some clubs are more specific

The question DW asked all Bundesliga clubs about the clear differences in income between professional men’s and women’s teams went unanswered by all – when it comes to the numbers. But some clubs have offered a preview.

“Equal pay between female and male footballers in their clubs is currently not possible due to the barely comparable income situation,” said Tim Schumacher, head of women’s football at VfL Wolfsburg.

Rapinoe, two-time World Cup winner with the United States, is a long-time equal pay advocate

“The players are aware of these differences, which are particularly glaring with regard to income from TV marketing,” he adds. Equality, however, means more than equal pay, which Schumacher says many female footballers also emphasize time and time again.

Not only in Wolfsburg, but also among other clubs with professional first division teams – Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, Hoffenheim and Werder Bremen – there is a unanimous effort to provide professional women with training conditions. and gambling which are not way inferior to those of men.

United States and Europe: worlds apart

“In principle, we endorse Rapinoe’s demands for equal pay and conditions,” says Michael Rudolph, communications director at Werder Bremen. “At Werder, we are committed to equal rights in football. This includes, for example, campaigning for more television broadcasts of women’s matches and making more offers to sponsors.”

However, Rudolph adds that the context of European football is different from that of the United States, in terms of structures, budgets and marketing opportunities.

But could there be “equal pay” in football in the years to come? Rudolph has his doubts, but thinks we are at least seeing changes in the language used by men around women’s football.

“When I hear commentators say, ‘This is what makes women’s football fun,’ that’s a stupid phrase. When the athletes have produced a top performance, it has to be: ‘This is what that makes soccer fun. “

UEFA Women's Champions League |  Chelsea FC v VfL Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg has one of the best women’s teams in Germany – but their female players still earn much less than their male counterparts

As far as the portfolio is concerned, appreciation is inexpensive, in a positive or negative sense. But what else can we do?

Denni Strich, general manager of Hoffenheim, underlines the youth structures which enjoy a very high status within the club. And whatever the different economic starting points, he says it is important to “weigh the perception and appreciation, also in a financial sense, of the achievements of professional sportswomen against their performances”.

“To this end, we have already successfully broadened our commitment to marketing women’s teams in the past, which has also enabled us to increase player salaries,” he added.

‘Be an agent of change’

On a positive note, the direction of travel is forward. But where next? We can continue to dream of fair remuneration for women in the professional world.

This week, the Association of European Clubs (ECA) released a strategy document for women’s football entitled “Be a Changemaker”. The goal is to achieve sustainable growth, he says. “Full gender equality in football is an ambitious goal, but we welcome it,” said Charlie Marshall, CEO of ECA.

This concluding comment underscores the fact that despite progress, it is still too often men who decide on these issues in sport.

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