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Unequal Pay for Equal Play




The gender pay gap remains enormous in sport. Despite women’s achievements in rugby, football and cricket, resources continue to be channeled to men’s sport in South Africa.

In May this year, Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO Thabang Moroe made a bold pronouncement – he wanted to see men and women paid equally in the sport.

Bold because contentious contractual agreements for national contracts – for men – had not been signed yet, following a lengthy standoff between the South African Cricketers’ Association and the suits at CSA.

Bold because cricket – and sport in general – was a long, long way away from gender parity.

The silence from the other sports federations was audible. You would think such a statement would spark the ‘Four-Minute Mile’ effect and cause the other sports administrators to take up the fight for equal gender pay. Not a word.

The last known figures (2015) showed Proteas women earned about eight times less than the men. If the men win a Test, it’s R10,000 ($690) to R80,000 ($5,520).

Those figures might have improved for the women following financial wellness company Momentum’s injection into the sport, especially after their stellar showing at the Women’s World Cup in England last year, where they made the semifinals. However, the gap remains enormous.

The general consensus is that the AB de Villiers big hits and Kagiso Rabada’s bombardier bowling bring in the audience and therefore they deserve a bigger slice of the pie.

But how can they not be viewed in higher marketing esteem when all the resources are channeled to boys’ sports from inception? When there are school rugby derbies, the sister schools are in the stands watching the boys play but where are the boys when the girls play?

The game is rigged from the start. Women are playing a board game of snakes with no ladders, whereas the men are in a game of ladders with no snakes.

At the last women’s World Cup in 2014, the Springboks women’s squad members were paid somewhere between R5,000 ($345) and R7,000 ($483) per match, according to a source within SA Rugby.

Pitiful as those wages were, they were the last seen by the XV-player version of the women’s game. For four years, the rugby mother body scheduled no Tests for the women’s national team, choosing instead to focus on the Sevens derivative, whose players received R12,000 ($828) to R20,000 ($1,380) in match fees.

This year, the women’s national XV-a-side team returns to the field, most likely to cobwebs where a fair wage should be.

Au contraire, the men are laughing all the way to the bank. The current HSBC Sevens World Series champions, the Blitzboks, can each expect nothing less than R800,000 ($55,288) per year for contracted players, while Springbok match fees range from R90,000 ($6,220) to R120,000 ($8,230) per game and double that for a victorious match.

Consider the dual contracts rugby players can sign with South African as well as Japanese franchises – which can climb to about R13 million ($900,000) in East Asia alone. Such figures would make any of the female players’ eyes water.

An SA Rugby spokesperson says: “South African rugby is excited and committed to the challenge of growing women’s rugby in this country.

Our major challenge is the relatively small number of female players from which we can choose but we have addressed that by creating under-16 and under-18 competitions as well as establishing youth training centers around the country where female players can train and be upskilled.

“Only once we have reached a critical mass of female players will be able to think of professionalizing the women’s provincial game.”

What South African female footballers receive is a borderline insult.

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A Banyana Banyana player, who has also played for the national team at Under-17 and Under-20 level, says, on condition of anonymity: “I didn’t receive any allowance for playing Under-17 and Under-20.

“With Banyana, I think it’s roughly R4,000 ($276) for being in camp for a week and if you win, you get a bonus of about R2,000 ($138).”

The women’s football team has qualified for the last two Olympic Games, in Britain and Brazil, while the men’s team has all but underperformed on the international stage. This has not prevented brand and sponsorship managers to jump towards the Premier Soccer League, making it the richest league on the African continent.

Women’s football in South Africa survives on the lone sponsorship from Sasol, who provide for an amateur league and the women’s national team needs. The paucity of resources also means that the sport fails to attract talented women, who would much rather earn a living in an office job.

A recent news report showed that Bafana Bafana players could get R40,000 ($2,767) to R60,000 ($4,150) per match, despite a chronic inability to qualify for major tournaments consistently. Banyana Banyana, by virtue of a 6-0 victory over Lesotho in June, qualified for the CAF Women Nations Cup to be held in Ghana later this year.

Recently appointed South African Football Association (SAFA) Vice-President, Ria Ledwaba, the first woman to hold the post, says a fresh approach to luring sponsors into the women’s game is needed. As it stands, Sasol is the biggest sponsor of women’s football, and they keep the lights on not just for the national team but the domestic Sasol League as well.

“We need other Sasols to come on board,” says Ledwaba.

SAFA Vice-President, Ria Ledwaba.

“We want our girls to be encouraged to play soccer. They [probably] look at what Banyana are earning now and say, ‘What’s the point? It’s not going to take me another level’. But when you look at Bafana, you know what you get when you get called up and that’s because of a sponsor.

“Sometimes you must go to the market and get competent companies that are able to package sponsors in, and sell what Banyana have achieved. We need to draw in companies that sell products that are used by women and such. And if you don’t approach them, they won’t come to you.”

Former Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini, tweeted in May: “I’m still mad at myself for this, for allowing people to emotionally manipulate us of what we deserve [sic]. People make serious money with just under 50 caps of national duty. We still struggle to make ends meet during our prime & even after retirement.”

In that lone statement, the pitiful situation can be summed up.

– By Sibusiso Mjikeliso

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World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2019: What Messi, LeBron And Tiger Make





Major League Baseball had a staggering run this year when, over a four-week period, a quartet of its biggest stars—Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Mike Trout—signed blockbuster, long-term deals worth a combined $1.3 billion. They ranked as four of the biggest playing contracts in the history of sports.

The deals will create generational wealth for their families, but only Trout, ranked 17th with $50.6 million, cracks the top 20 of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

The difference: Those four baseball stars generate barely $10 million in combined endorsement income while the top earners in basketball, soccer, tennis and golf all individually bank at least $30 million from sponsors annually; eight of the 11 best-paid athletes come from those four sports.

READ MORE | Lionel Messi Claims Top Spot on Forbes’ 2019 List Of The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes

Most of the athletes ranked above Trout follow a similar path: Reach the highest levels of a global sport, and marketers swarm with endorsement deals to pitch their wares around the world.

Barcelona soccer legend Lionel Messi leads the way on this year’s list with $127 million, including $35 million off the pitch from partners Adidas, MasterCard, PepsiCo and more. Messi translates into every language.

Messi is only the fourth athlete to land in the No. 1 spot over the past 19 years, joining Tiger Woods (12 times), Floyd Mayweather (4) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2).

Messi succeeds Mayweather, who failed to get in the ring for a pro bout over the past 12 months but is likely still counting last year’s $285 million haul, which he earned largely from his 2017 bout against UFC star Conor McGregor.

READ MORE | The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes

Messi is joined by fellow global soccer icons Cristiano Ronaldo ($109 million) and Neymar ($105 million) at the top this year. It is the first time that soccer players have ranked as the top three earners in sports since Forbes began tracking athlete earnings in 1990.

Elite stars in other global sports are also extremely marketable on any continent. Roger Federer ranks fifth with $93.4 million, including $86 million off the court.

Federer will turn 38 in August and is a dinosaur in tennis years. Yet Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo signed the 20-time Grand Slam winner in 2018 to a 10-year contract worth $300 million. Federer has a dozen sponsors looking to tap the cash-rich tennis fan demographic.

Basketball’s leading trio of LeBron James ($89 million), Stephen Curry ($79.8 million) and Kevin Durant ($65.4 million) rank seventh through ninth, having earned a combined $130 million beyond their respective playing salaries.

READ MORE | The NBA’s Highest-Paid Players 2019: LeBron James Leads With $89 Million

Their shoe deals, with Nike (James, Durant) and Under Armour (Curry), are by far the biggest endorsement for each player and dwarf what an MLB player can earn pitching baseball cleats and gear.

Sportswear brands, including Adidas, have used NBA stars in China for more than a decade to help establish a foothold in the world’s biggest market, sending big names like James and Durant there every summer on promotional tours. The NBA estimates 640 million people in China watched some kind of NBA programming during the 2017-18 season—that’s nearly twice the population of the U.S.

Golf is another sport that reaches almost every corner of the globe, and no golfer has benefited more than Tiger Woods: He has made $1.4 billion during his career from endorsements and appearance fees, more than 10 times his prize money, and his net worth is a staggering $800 million. Woods ranks 11th on this year’s athletes list with earnings of $63.9 million, including $54 million off the course.

Tiger roared back over the past 12 months with his first win in five years (Tour Championship) and his first major title in 11 years (The Masters). Last year, he signed an exclusive multi-year global content partnership with Discovery’s GolfTV. Head-to-head matches are part of the deal, and most will take place outside the U.S.

The 100 highest-paid athletes earned a combined $4 billion over the past 12 months, up 5% over the previous year. The increase jumps to 16% if you strip out the one-time stimulus of the 2017 Mayweather-McGregor fight. Endorsements fueled much of the gains, with sponsor-driven income at $987 million, up 12% from the previous year.

Overall, athletes from 10 sports and 25 countries made the top 100. Basketball (35 athletes) is the most dominant sport, and Americans (62) are the most dominant nationality.

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Tennis ace Serena Williams ranked 63rd with $29.2 million, including $25 million off the court. She is the only woman to crack the top 100 for the second time in three years. 

No female athletes qualified last year, when Williams was just returning to tennis after a 12-month layoff for her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, Olympia. Williams is lining up her next act with a new clothing line and a venture capital fundfocused on investing in female and minority founders.

Our earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12-month period (click here for a more detailed methodology and the numbers behind the top 100).

-Kurt Badenhausen; Forbes Staff

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Lionel Messi Claims Top Spot on Forbes’ 2019 List Of The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes





Forbes today released its annual ranking of the World’s 100 Highest-Paid athletes, who collectively earned $4 billion over the last 12 months, up 5% from last year’s earnings of $3.8 billion. 

Lionel Messi was named the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time, up from second place last year, with $127 million in total earnings.

Messi unseats Floyd Mayweather, who held the crown last year, and was the leader four times in seven years. Behind Messi is longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 2), who earned $109 million between his salary and endorsements. 

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Serena Williams (No. 63) returned to the ranking, after no women appeared in 2018. Cost of admission to the 2019 list is the highest ever at $25 million, up $2.1 million from the previous year. Endorsement income experienced an increase of 12.5% to $987 million this year.

“The global impact of soccer is clearly reflected in earnings in 2019, with the top three athletes on the list being Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar,” said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor, Forbes Media.

“But basketball players continue to dominate the top 100 overall with 35 athletes on the list earning a total of $1.29 billion, with 72% of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals.”

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The list of elite athletes consists of players from ten different sports. NBA stars lead with 35 basketball players among the top 100, down from 40 in 2018, headed by LeBron James (No. 8 with $89 million).

Football was the next most-represented sport with 19 players, followed by baseball with 15, and soccer with 12.

There are 25 different countries represented on this year’s World’s Highest-Paid Athletes list, up from 22 in 2018. Americans dominate the action with 62 athletes thanks to the sky-high salaries in the major sports leagues.

The U.K. has five athletes, France and Spain have three, while Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Serbia and Venezuela all have two.


Our earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12-month period based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. We do not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, and we don’t include investment income.

The World’s Top 10 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2019:

RankAthleteSportSalary/Winnings ($mil)Endorsements ($mil)Total Earnings ($mil)
1Lionel MessiSoccer9235127
2Cristiano RonaldoSoccer6544109
4Canelo AlvarezBoxing92294
5Roger FedererTennis7.48693.4
6Russell WilsonFootball80.5989.5
7Aaron RodgersFootball80.3989.3
8LeBron JamesBasketball365389
9Stephen CurryBasketball37.84279.8
10Kevin DurantBasketball30.43565.4

-Forbes Corporate Communications; Forbes Staff

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Young women in Soweto, South Africa, say healthy living is hard. Here’s why




Data from South Africa has shown that over two thirds of young women are overweight and obese. This predisposes them to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Most women are not exercising enough, and consumption of processed and calorie-dense foods and high amounts of sugar is common.

It was this knowledge that sparked the establishment of the Health Life Trajectories Initiative. It’s being run in South Africa, India, China and Canada and aims to provide interventions that can help young women stay healthy before, during and after pregnancy.

In South Africa, this randomised controlled trial will provide one-on-one support as well as peer group sessions to over 6000 young women. The idea is provide them with information, and to help them set and maintain goals for healthier lifestyles.

Researchers from the Medical Research Council and Wits University’s Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit are running the South African arm of the study. We wanted to start by better understanding our target population – that is, young women aged between 18 and 24 living in Soweto.

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Soweto is a large, densely populated urban township which comprises one third of Johannesburg’s population. Soweto is becoming rapidly urbanised, but the majority of people are still very poor and struggle to provide food for their families.

We conducted a series of focus group discussions and in depth interviews to unravel health behaviours, barriers and facilitators to wellbeing and health with young women from Soweto who had not yet had a child. We also asked them about what sorts of interventions they’d prefer to support and guide them.

The women offered important insights that showed it’s not enough to simply promote healthy eating and exercise without considering the very real environmental and structural constraints present in South Africa.

Barriers to healthy choices

The 29 participants spoke about many different facets of health. These included happiness and mental wellbeing, faith, social support, body image, and lifestyle behaviours.

They identified many barriers to healthy eating, among them the cost of and access to healthy food options. Some women also said they had little access to exercise facilities such as gyms and were afraid to exercise on the streets because they feared being assaulted or harassed. One woman said:

No, I don’t feel safe because we have drug addicts, traffic, women trafficking: it’s not safe for us to walk in the streets.

The women we interviewed painted a picture of an environment in which healthy behaviours are difficult to implement or sustain. One said:

Small businesses that are opening up in my community and they all sell fries, literally they just all sell fries…

Women told us that cheap and unhealthy fast foods are on every street corner: “bunny chow” – hollowed out bread stuffed with curry – vetkoek (a fried dough bread stuffed with different fillings) and fried chips are affordable and available within a few steps of most houses. As a result, women did not want to go out of their way to purchase healthier, more expensive foods.

Our interviewees also didn’t feel able to demand that healthier food be bought for their homes, because many were not contributing financially and were therefore not in a position to control food purchases. Women reported being financially dependant on relatives and male partners.

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They also said that opportunities for physical activity were neither provided nor prioritised for women in Soweto. Some women said that a lack of facilities made it difficult for them to participate in any exercise, as they did not have access to gyms or fields to exercise.

Other women told us that there were gyms, sports grounds, parks, and even free aerobics classes at community halls in their area. However these facilities often get vandalised quickly, and can no longer be used. More importantly, they didn’t feel safe enough to exercise on the streets, perhaps by jogging or running. They also felt unsafe walking around in leggings or tights. Women were fearful of human trafficking, sexual assault, and violence – very real issues in this community.

Crucially, our research found that young women did not see obesity as a sufficient reason to change their behaviour. But they said they would be motivated to exercise and eat better if they were diagnosed with a non-communicable disease like diabetes.

This suggests that obesity has become normalised in South Africa – and this needs to be addressed.

Policy interventions

These findings are now being worked into our interventions, and we are cognisant of the contextual realities that may affect young women’s ability to change their lifestyles. We hope that this research, along with whatever findings emerge from our interventions, will inform policy makers and motivate them to implement necessary changes in this community.

Women in Soweto and in South Africa in general need support to live healthier lifestyles. This support needs to come from policy makers. If South Africa does not step up and support young women by providing them with access to safe spaces and affordable healthier foods, and by controlling the oversupply of unhealthy options, the country may not be able to curb its ever increasing rise in obesity and related non-communicable diseases.

-Alessandra Prioreschi: Associate Director and Researcher at the Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit (DPHRU), University of the Witwatersrand

The Conversation

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