Pay gap in Belgian sport rises to 81 per cent

The pay gap among paid athletes in Belgium is 81 per cent, according to annual figures from the federal Institute for the Equality of Women and Men. The institute says more measures should be taken to improve gender equality in sport, such as ensuring identical prize money for similar competitions for women and men and more media coverage of women's and mixed sports.

According to the study, the rebound of the economy after the Covid crisis is benefiting gender equality. Adjusted for working hours, the general pay gap now stands at 7.0 per cent, down from 8.0 per cent last year. ​ In the world of sport, however, the gap has risen to 81 per cent.

"To be successful in elite sport, it is important for athletes to be able to dedicate themselves to it professionally. But currently, this remains a pipe dream for many female athletes,” said Liesbet Stevens, deputy director of the institute.

“The gender gap is huge. 6 per cent of pro athletes are women. Moreover, 59 per cent of them are in part-time employment, compared to 30 per cent among male pros. Engaging in top-level sport part-time is obviously an illusion: in practice, it means being paid part-time to focus (more than) full-time on your sport."

According to the institute, gender equality in sport should remain a focus of attention and be promoted through actions with the support of all actors and stakeholders. These actions include identical prize money for similar competitions for women and men, more media coverage of women's and mixed sports, and fair remuneration for athletes from the government and federations so that elite athletes can make a decent living from their sport. 

All figures refer to the year 2022.


Belgium's Maxuella Lisowa Mbaka during a basketball game between Belgium and Nigeria © BELGA PHOTO VIRGINIE LEFOUR

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