Grant strives for equality in sport

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Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Sports Minister Helen Grant wants to see a “battle for gender balance and fairness” in sport after a study displayed stark differences still exist in prize money for men and women.

The study carried out by the BBC revealed differences in 30 per cent of the 56 sports looked at, with sports such as cricket, golf and football having differences that go into or close to seven-figure sums, while others such as darts and snooker also have large disparities.

In football, for example, Arsenal won the FA Cup in both genders this year, but the money paid out was £1.8million to the men and just £5,000 to the women.

The women’s Premier League – won by Liverpool – carries no prize money, while the men’s competition, which Manchester City won in May, pays £24million.

And although women’s sports are now being given great exposure – over 30,000 people will watch England’s women against Germany at Wembley next month – Grant knows there is still work to do.

“There is a gap, it needs to be closed but it’s not going to happen overnight,” she told BBC Sport.

“We do know that women’s sport is very exciting, we know it can draw really big audiences but we need more media coverage and more commercial investment.

“It’s not just about the bottom line and profits and the return on investment which I believe they will get, it’s also taking part in the battle for gender balance and fairness in the 21st century.”

Kelly Simmons, the Football Association’s director of the national game and women’s football, acknowledges the gulf between men’s and women’s football but says plans are in place to try to address that.

She said: “We are investing £12million in women’s football this year but we want to direct that investment where we think it will have the biggest impact and at the moment we do not think that is in prize funds.

“However, we are reviewing it and are looking for a commercial partner to take the women’s FA Cup to bigger audiences.”

The study also discovered significant differences in sports considered minority ones such as darts and snooker.

In darts, the men’s world champion takes home a cheque for £100,000 while the female equivalent pockets just £12,000. In snooker the numbers are £300,000 and £1,500, although female players are entitled to qualify for the men’s tour.

The other side of the study is that 70 per cent of sports are paying equal prize money.

“In 70 per cent of sports there is parity and that’s great and that’s what we want,” Grant added. “But we also want the others moving in that direction too and I feel it will happen when the full potential of women’s sport is seen and realised.”

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

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