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Pandemic hit UK women's sport much more than men's

A novel British parliamentary committee report declared just yesterday that the deadly coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women’s elite sport and exacerbated inequality with knock-on effects for the future.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) carried out an analysis on the impact of COVID-19, called on the government to outline how it intended to support already under-funded women’s sport post-crisis.

It also emphasises that men’s elite sports should not be “further prioritised at the expense of the women’s game”.

Soccer - FA Women's Continental League Cup Final - Arsenal v Chelsea - The City Ground, Nottingham, Britain - February 29, 2020 Chelsea's Sam Kerr in action. image credit Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

The report highlighted the high numbers of events that women’s soccer, cycling, and rugby seasons were cancelled, while men’s sports continued. The report also discussed the postponement to 2021 of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which had also hit female athletes harder than men.

Within the published report, the committee also clearly stated that soccer urgently needs to be more representative, declaring that there is a “fundamental inequality”, as no Black owner, chair or chief executive of a Premier League club, could be found.

“The lack of visibility (and inequality) of women’s sport this summer risks undoing work to improve funding for women’s elite sport,” the report reads.

“Cancellation of women’s events is likely to reduce the number of women being inspired to take part in sporting activities.”

Chelsea’s Eniola Aluko celebrates after the Women's FA Cup Final - Arsenal vs Chelsea at Wembley Stadium, London, Britain. Image credit: REUTERS/TONY O'BRIEN)

The DCMS added the fact that the health crisis had also “shone a stark light” on financial issues in soccer, whose current business model was already not sustainable.

“We firmly believe that football must use its response to the COVID-19 crisis to ‘reset’,” it said. “The crisis has shone a light on the culture of unfair pay in football.

“The decision by some Premier League clubs to furlough non-playing staff was deplorable, and we welcomed its reversal.”

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