Drastic gender-based pay gaps in sport

A reply to a question from the Democratic Alliance (DA) has revealed drastic gaps in pay between what men and women in sport earn.

DA MP, Solly Seshoka asked Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula what the match fees were that were paid to the senior national cricket, football, rugby, hockey and netball teams. This was for the period 2010-2014. 

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) did not respond to the minister’s request for the information. Meanwhile, Mbalula said South African hockey is an “amateur” association, so no players are paid for their matches. Instead, they are subsidised by sponsor funding.   

Soccer and cricket
Women’s netball players earned anything from R1 500 for a winning match to R15 000 for a month-long tour. But the real discrepancies showed when earnings for men and women were compared in football and in cricket. 

The department considers the female teams in both these sports to be “amateur”. This is presumably the department’s justification for the pay gap.  

The graph demonstrates the largest amount a player in either sport can earn:    

Entrenching inequality 
Seshoka said the pay gap “entrenched” gender inequality in sport.

“For the majority of these players, match fees from the national teams are their only income. The fees for women’s players are not enough to sustain a professional career in sports,” Seshoka said.

“The logic by the two federations that the senior men’s teams are remunerated more due to the fact their value proposition is much higher than their female counterparts is not good enough. The women’s sporting codes should be built up over time by providing more incentives for talented sportswomen to become professional athletes.

“If the sports federations play their part, we can professionalise our women’s sports and create strong value propositions.

“The bottom line is that both federations have lucrative sponsors, in addition to the individual sponsors for the senior men’s teams, which are a source of revenue they can use to reward our female national team players.”

A spokesperson for the minister was not immediately available on Monday.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 

Related stories


Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories


Joel Embiid gets the nod, and though Curry has performed well lately, there are doubts that the Warriors will prevail

Beyond the digital cold war: Technology and the future of...

Several African governments have published plans to establish smart cities, including Cairo, Johannesburg, Kigali and Nairobi. They require the most advanced technologies available

Funding a vaccine will tax our limits

VAT should not be hiked, but a once-off levy on mineral resources or a solidarity tax seems likely

‘SA can’t leave its shift to a low-carbon future to...

Innovation and creativity is crucial to guide financing, say experts

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…