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Ombudsman to investigate gender pay discrimination in Finnish national football teams

Finland's ombudsman for gender equality has demanded an explanation for the differential pay levels for male and female national team players.

Image: Lehtikuva / Jussi Nukari

Finland's Football Association will have to explain why male and female national team players receive very different pay levels after the ombudsman for gender equality launched a probe into the issue.

The ombudsman has asked the FA to explain why the compensation players receive when they represent the country differs according to their gender. Women receive a lot less than men do for playing for Finland.

"It has come to our attention that male and female national team players receive different compensation and we've started an investigation to find out if that is true and why it might be," said Jukka Maarianvaara, the gender equality ombudsman.

Women's euro is four cents

The move follows a joint investigation by Yle, Sweden's SVT and Norwegian broadcaster NRK that identified a huge gender pay gap among elite athletes in the Nordic countries.

That study found that in 2016, male athletes received some 134 million euros. Women got just 7.5 million euros, meaning that an elite female sports star makes on average four cents for every euro paid to men.

In Finland elite male sports stars received 37 million euros, with women making just one million euros. The biggest pay differentials were found in team sports.

"Men should do more"

Finland's Football Association says that women received a pay rise this year, and can get total bonus payments in the six figures as a squad now. FA General Secretary Marco Casagrande says that he expects the FA's explanation to be satisfactory, with no further action to be taken.

Tim Sparv, who captain's the men's national team, told Yle that supply and demand is one factor in the differential wages, and that the media should offer more visibility to women's sports to attract sponsors—but that male sports stars should also do more on the issue.

"Men should also ask how we can help women so that their station and personal finances improve," said Sparv. "It's too easy to say nothing and think that it's their problem. I believe that we could take more responsibility to improve gender equality."

Gender equality in international football became a hot-button issue at the start of the year when Norway said (siirryt toiseen palveluun) it would pay the same wages to men and women playing for the national teams. That solution involved a pay cut for the men.

In July the English non-League team Lewes announced (siirryt toiseen palveluun) it would follow suit, paying senior men's and women's team players the same wages.