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Football, golf and basketball have biggest prize money gaps between genders

A majority of sports now offer equal winning prize money between male and female athletes in elite sport but the biggest gaps remain between football, golf and basketball.

Football, golf and basketball have biggest prize money gaps between genders

A study conducted by BBC Sport has surveyed 48 sports and it is the third time they have carried out the global study, in 2014 and 2017.

Of all the sports surveyed, 37 offered prize money - of which only three did not offer parity at any of its major championships or events.

"Women's sport continues to go from strength to strength," said Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston.

"It's absolutely right that the rewards match that success and we have seen a significant levelling up in the prize money on offer in recent years.

"We must continue to push for greater participation, employment, commercial opportunities and visibility in the media for women's sport, to keep up this momentum."

Cricket has taken the biggest strides in narrowing the gender prize money gap, with its new The Hundred tournament, set for its inaugural season in 2021, offering equal prize money for both the men's and women's teams, as well as the men's and women's Big Bash leagues achieving parity in the 2017/18 season.

Other sports to have achieved parity since the 2017 edition of the BBC prize money study include hockey, cliff diving, surfing and wrestling in at least one major competition.

Despite the progress across the large majority of sports, football has one of the largest disparities in prize money.

The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup was the most watched edition of the tournament in its history but, despite its projected overall total audience reach of 1.12 billion people being a third of the 2018 men's World Cup, its prize fund was over nine times less.

The US women's national team won US$4 million, compared to France men's 2018 windfall of US$38m. The women's prize money was double that of the previous tournament in 2015, and FIFA has stated previously that it will double again for the 2023 edition.

In the UEFA Champions League, the prize money has decreased from €250,000 in 2019 to €150,000 in 2020 and 2021, whereas the men's prize fund has remained the same at €19 million.

Another sport where disparities are clear is golf. Despite female golfers being amongst the highest earners in elite sport, they earn considerably less than their male counterparts.

At June' US Open, the men will be competing for US$2.25 million, whereas the top prize for the US Women's Open stands only at US$1 million. In 2014, the difference was less, standing at US$900,000.

Looking at the impact of COVID-19, BBC Sport discovered that while the pandemic continues to have an impact on sport, the majority of sports surveyed said prize money would not be affected, though many said they did not know at this stage.

Kelly Simmons, the FA's director of the women's professional game, said: "It's well documented that the FA has had to undergo significant cuts and redundancies. It's a very tough environment. It's not the time at the moment to be trying to find new monies.

"Down the line we want to develop and grow the women's FA Cup just like we've been doing with the Women's Super League by helping to develop it commercially to bring in revenue and ultimately get as much money out to the clubs as we can.

"Of course we want to increase the prize fund, but those funds aren't there so we invest in other ways in clubs."

Author: Jake Wilkin