Women’s sports (finally) has become a big business

They won! competitions, such as the FIFA World Cup, on several occasions, and medals, including gold, at the 2012 London Olympics. But what American footballers have earned is much more than that: it’s equal pay to the men who have earned it. At the end of an agreement and, above all, a long battle, including over legal ground, the USA “Football”, as the transatlantic ball game is called, pledged that the national teams, men and women, were paid the same salary in international competitions and matches.

In addition, the two teams will equally share the money paid by the International Football Association, FIFA, for their participation in the World Cup, which will be held for men in 2022, in Qatar, and for women, in Australia and New Zealand, in 2023. Are stars like Megan Rapinoe satisfied? Of course, they point out, however, that they’ve been discriminated against for years – while their performance has sometimes surpassed that of the men… and if the footballers agree to participate, the fact remains that 32 men’s teams compete. In Qatar next November, they will share 450 million dollars, while the 24 women’s teams participating in the 2019 World Cup in France had to settle 30 million dollars…

cultural developments

Where does this gap come from? The still well-established cultural – and gender-biased – reactions that can be found almost everywhere in professional sports, be it football, tennis, golf, rugby, cycling…? No doubt. The fact that women’s sports do not attract as many spectators and therefore do not generate as much money as men’s sports in ticket and broadcast rights? “In fact, if women’s football had not been banned between 1921 and 1971 in the UK – for the sole reason that it was more of a fan draw than men’s football – today it might be the most popular sport in the world, more so than its male counterpart,” he asserts. Vladimir Andreev, Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne and President of the Scientific Council of the Observatory for the Economy of Sport, at the Ministry of Sports.

However, women’s professional sports have evolved over the past 20 years. So much so that at the end of 2020, the consultancy Deloitte predicted that, taking into account television rights, sponsorship contracts and income from events, the sums it would likely incur would exceed $1 billion annually. the future. A very small number compared to the 471 billion that the sports business overall reached in 2018, but women’s sports have proven, in recent years, “its ability to attract a large television audience, to create value for sponsors and attract thousands of fans,” Deloitte points out. As for polling institute Nielsen, it noted, in its 2018 survey, that the rise of women’s professional sports was one of the most important global trends. In fact, out of the eight major countries studied, in Europe and the rest of the world, the data collected shows that 84% of sports fans in general state an interest in women’s sports, including 51% of men.

Celebrating football players

Some clubs, especially football clubs, have understood this very well. Following the cultural upheaval of May 68, which allowed the development of women’s sports, FC Lyon created a women’s football team in 1970 (annexed to Olympique Lyonnais since 2004) and Paris Saint-Germain launched a division in 1971. The footballers also distinguished themselves again by winning In the Champions League final against Barcelona, ​​in the crowded Turin stadium (more than 40,000 spectators).

“But if the strategy of these clubs is paying off, especially that of Jean-Michel Aulas, in the OL, then the salaries of the players still come from the income generated by the men’s teams,” said Vladimir Andreev.

Senior staff, since OL and PSG have offered, according to L’Equipe estimates, the highest gross average monthly wages in the tournament, at €12,000 and €9,000 respectively, and €37,000 for French internationals, Cadédiatou Diane (at PSG) and Wendie Renard (in OL), but they still pale in comparison to the monthly millions of male stars from these clubs!

growing audience

Will French female professional athletes ever win the same contract as men, or will they get the same price for participating in international competitions anyway? Everything depends on certain elements, including the television audience. According to Deloitte, in 2019, the Women’s Football Cup broke records, with a total of nearly one billion viewers, to which must be added the 500 million people who reached it via digital platforms. As a result, broadcasting rights are constantly increasing in major football nations. For example, they cost, in France, for the period 2018-2023 women’s D1, 1.2 million euros per season in Canal +, compared to 110,000 euros in 2011 and 200,000 in 2017. And this, then, these amounts are clearly higher, of course for men’s matches they are falling Constantly, even if it is still the site of bitter battles.. Sponsors are also present. Thus, the chemist Arkema, partner of French women’s football since 2019, re-entered last April until 2025. Sponsorship costs him 1.2 million euros per season. Professional mathematicians, whatever their major, also benefit from this enthusiasm in the form of contracts with sponsors. De fait, « le corps de la femmes reste un support publicitaire de choix, soupire Wladimir Andreff, qui s’inquiète en outre de voir certains travers masculins, comme l’agressivité, s’emparer du sport féminin à l’avenir – pour le Stage show…