Women’s football ticket sales surpass men’s…but their pay is still lagging

Labour Party

Some 50,000 fans are expected to watch England Vs Germany at Wembley on 23 November. There is nothing either revolutionary or ground breaking about this, except that it is, because I didn’t mention it’s the England women’s football team. The record ticket sales (currently 45,000) are already more than the 40,081 who paid to watch the England men’s team last friendly against Norway in September.

Women’s football is now a serious sport, and this should be reflected not just in the pay, which is notoriously bad, but its players deserve far greater respect from the FA than is currently offered. Indeed if the Football Association wants to draw big crowds then it need not look any further than to the women’s team to bring in the fans.

It would also be helpful if the likes of Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, stopped making misogynistic comments concerning women’s attire in the game. For those who have forgotten what he said, Blatter suggested women players wear tighter shorts in order to promote a more ‘female aesthetic.’

“They could, for example, have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men – such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?” he said.

Despite these ridiculous comments, young women and girls are taking to the sport in their droves. It is now played by 250,000 females in England and it is the fourth most participated team sport after men’s football, rugby and cricket. It’s predicted (by the FA) that by 2018, at its current rate of growth it will be second in the table surpassing rugby and cricket.

Despite its popularity and its ability to fill Wembley Stadium, women footballers are still paid significantly less than a Premier League player’s weekly wage.

The game at Wembley this month will be an important milestone, and surely this will be the much needed wake-up call required to change how women in the sport are paid.

Football isn’t the only offender of course, but other sports (tennis for example) have addressed the issue and prize money for the Wimbledon tournament is now exactly the same as their male counterparts.

It’s simple. Nothing bad will happen if parity for women footballers is achieved. After all, they train just as hard and are rivalling their male counterparts in the numbers of crowds they can draw.

FIFA: Bringing Sport into Disrepute

Labour Party

Sepp Blatter

It’s difficult to read about the current crisis in FIFA without a slight sense of schadenfreude.  Since England lost the chance to host the World Cup 2018 with an embarrassing two votes going to our bid, there has been a general mood of antipathy towards world football’s governing body.  The fact that the World Cup went to Russia, who have a rather questionable human rights record, limited press freedom and what some have described as a ‘mafia state’, made the loss all the more painful.  But that day FIFA managed the double whammy of bad decisions and awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a country where there are many problems, one of the worst being homosexuality is illegal.  There was a sense that something ‘wasn’t right’ and it’s hard not to feel slightly vindicated by the current crop of accusations and recriminations carrying on in Zurich.

Self-regulation have always been the watch words when it comes to governance in sport, but perhaps the current situations shows that there is a space for legislators.  I’m not suggesting that the EU or any other supra-national governing body get involved in the allocation of World Cups, that sounds like too much of a headache, but there may be a need a for more scrutiny and more legislation.

The Lisbon Treaty means that the EU now has greater competence in sport and the Commission has handed down its first communication on the subject.  This communication looks at, among other things, doping, sports betting and player transfers.  These are areas where the sports organisations have little ability or willingness to intervene.  Sport affects the lives of so many across the EU, it is only right that we ensure that it’s held to the highest standards.  Otherwise organisations such as FIFA, with their huge amounts of money and power, can end up bringing sport into disrepute.