According to a BBC Sport study published on International Woman’s day, the majority of top-tier sports now offer equal winning prize money to men and women at the top level. Among the 48 sports surveyed for the study (which was later reduced to 37 disciplines that offered prize money), only three sports (football, golf, and basketball) were found to have a great prize money disparity.
Cricket emerged as the most progressive sport in the study. The inaugural season of the Hundred will offer equal prize money in the men’s and women’s tournaments. Australia’s Big Bash League has been paying equal prize money to men and women since the 2017-18 season. Even the winners of the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup may receive a purse of $1 million, just like 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup champions Australia.
BBC prize money study has been conducted before in 2014 and 2017. Since the last edition of the study four years ago, sports such as hockey, cliff diving, surfing, and wrestling have achieved equality in at least one major competition.
In hockey, the inaugural Pro League in 2019 saw the winning men’s and women’s teams receive $250,000. Cliff diving World Series is set to award equal prize money of 7,085 euros from 2021. World Surf League achieved prize money parity in 2019. Ranking Series in wrestling made prize money equal in 2018. Many more examples of such positive development have been listed in the study.
Unfortunately, the most expensive sports in the world are still unable to work towards prize money equality. Starting with football, the difference in the prize money offered in men’s and women’s tournaments remains severe despite the constant discussions around it. Although the women’s football World Cup offers the most winner’s prize money in women’s sport, it remains 9.5 times less than the amount awarded during the men’s tournament. This disparity is witnessed even after 2019 Women’s World Cup became the most-watched edition of the tournament in history.
In the Champions League, UEFA has decreased the prize money for women’s winners from 250,000 euros to 150,000 euros in 2020 and 2021, while the men’s prize fund has stayed the same at 19 million euros. In the FA Cup, the winners of the men’s tournament in the 2020-21 season will earn £1.8m, while the women’s winners will get £25,000.
Moving on to golf, despite being among the highest earners in elite sport, female golfers earn less than their male counterparts at majors. For instance, during this year’s US Open in June, male golfers will have the chance to win $2.25 million, whereas the top prize for the US Women’s Open will be $1 million. Fortunately, there are some positive signs in golf as the new ISPS Handa World Invitational event will feature separate men’s and women’s tournaments with equal prize money. It should be noted that the 2021 study focused on the prize money awarded to competition winners and did not include wages, bonuses, or sponsorships.