5 Major Differences between Men’s and Women’s Football :
The game of football is for both men and women. The rule of the game is the same all over the world, especially on a professional level. Thanks to FIFA, the body that governs football worldwide. However, there are debates by many football fans on the difference between men’s and women’s football.
While some believe that there are no differences, others believe areas of differences exist. Notwithstanding, there is an unwavering agreement that if differences exist at all, it is not in the rules been applied.
We believe there are areas of differences between men’s and women’s football. Hence, we have highlighted them below
Salaries and Wages
One of the major differences between men’s and women’s football is in terms of salaries and wages paid to the players. Even the best female footballers do not earn as much as an average male footballer.
This disparity in wages has drawn heated debates between players, fans, and officiating bodies, especially at various national teams.
Not long ago, the US Women’s soccer team was embroiled in a heated debate about receiving less pay compared to their male counterpart. It was not just a debate, the US Women National Team, USWNT in March 2019, filled a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, USSF for violating the Equal Pay Act.
Unfortunately, the majority of the suit was dismissed by the court while others are yet to be settled. This means that pending final judgment, the disparity in pay will continue. Notwithstanding, some female football national teams have managed to negotiate for equal pay. In October 2017, Norway agreed to pay both the men and women soccer team players the same amount.
Although it is encouragement, it scarcely reflects what is obtainable the world over. The disparity in pay is even more obvious between both genders at the club level. While it is normal to see male footballers earn around €400,000 per week, the same cannot be said of the female footballers.
In fact, what male footballers earn in one week is what their female counterpart earns in a year. Putting in perspective, Leo Messi’s annual salary is reportedly about 200 times what Carl Lloyd earns in a year.
Another major difference between men’s and women’s football is the fees paid for the transfer of players. This difference is very obvious.
Male football clubs are more willing to pay more money for the transfer of players. Several reasons can be attributed to their reluctance to part-way with a commensurate amount for female footballers. One of the reasons is the amount of revenue generated by male footballers compared to female footballers.
Players like Leo Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Mbappe are capable of generating millions of dollars for clubs, thanks to their popularity in the world.
Transfer fees for female footballers are often far lesser than those of male footballers. For instance, the British record transfer for a female footballer is just £250,000 paid by Chelsea for the signing of Harder from Wolfsburg in 2020. This is dwarfed by the British record transfer for a male footballer; the £100m paid by Manchester City for the signing of Grealish from Aston Villa.
Interestingly, the amount paid by Chelsea for Harder doubles as the World record fee. About ten times that amount was paid for the transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to PSG (€222m). In 2020, FIFA’s report showed that the transfer fee for women reached £0.88m for the first time. Again, this falls so much short of the £4.14b in men’s football.
Putting in perspective, the World record transfer of a female footballer as of 2021 is short of the amount paid by Leeds United for a relatively unknown Lewis Bate from Chelsea.
If there is one obvious area of difference between men’s and women’s football, it is in officiating. Although it has been earlier stated that the rules applied in both gender’s games are the same, the manner of its application is not.
Those who are familiar with men’s and women’s football can attest to the high level and constant controversial officiating experienced in the men’s game.
Take for example the English Premier League where there is hardly any weekend that goes by without debate on referee decisions. So much so that Sky Sports provides a special platform for ex-referees to review major decisions through its program; Ref Watch.
The same is obtainable during national competitions too which sometimes results in a fall-out between players and officials. One of the most recent cases involved Leo Messi at the 2019 Copa America in Brazil.
Some might even make arguments that the introduction of goal-line technology and VAR in football was instructed more by the controversy in the men’s game than the women’s.
Consider Reading: FIFA 2018 World Cup Roundup
Generally, men tend to be more physical than women. This is not a way of discrediting the numerous women involved in activities or sports that involves the exertion of power/force/physicality.
Compared to women’s football, there are full-blooded challenges in many matches involving men. Whether in the Italian Serie or English Premier League, this physicality in the men’s game often results in constant breaks in play, caution by refs, and even suspension.
Sometimes, it even results in a brawl involving teams and fans. These brawls are a rarity in women’s football and often appear strange to viewers when it occurs.
Pace and Rhythm
The physicality in men’s football affects the rhythm of the game. In women’s football, there is more continuity in play. Most times, the game is smooth with fewer “hands in the back” and “words in the ear” going on.
Although the rhythm in women’s football tends to be smoother, it does not necessarily translate into fast pace movement. Perhaps the physicality and athleticism of men allow faster movement compared to women.
There is constant movement by male footballers across the pitch, unlike the female where it is possible to see some take static positions. The constant movement of players in male football helps to increase the intensity of play. In comparison, women’s football is less intense for the same reason.
Women’s football has improved in several ways. There is growing popularity of female football around the world. This was obvious during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament where stadiums were filled with fans from all over the world. However, several areas can be improved if they must be mentioned in the same vein as men’s football.
The most notable ones are in revenue generation and fees/salaries & wages. The rules might be the same for both genders but there are major areas of differences as explained above.