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Finland’s lionesses to take home smaller bonuses than lions

Each player on the women's team will receive 5,000 euros compared to a possible 12,000 for each of their male peers if the men's team wins silver in May.

Naisleijonat rivissä, kuuntelevat USA.n kansallislaulua.
Finland's lionesses won silver in the recent women's ice hockey world championship. Image: Tomi Hänninen

In spite of an historic silver-medal performance during last Sunday’s Women’s Ice Hockey World Cup Championships, Finland’s national players will receive less than half of what their male peers are likely to get for a silver in the men’s tournament in Bratislava, Slovakia later this spring.

The lionesses, who were denied gold when a goal was disallowed in the dying minutes of their final against the USA, will each receive a 5,000-euro bonus for their sterling performance, compared to a possible 12,000-euro bounty for each of the players on the men’s team. If Finland’s men’s team manages to cop gold at the upcoming men’s championship in Bratislava, each player will receive a 27,000-euro cash prize.

Finnish Ice Hockey Association CEO Matti Nurminen said that it is not possible to compare the two situations – or the financial reward. He noted that the men’s and women’s games are at different stages in their life cycle.

"The International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF pays generous bonuses in the men’s world championships based on the level of success. The size of the men’s bonuses depends on how we divide the IIHF premium between the players and the association. On the other hand, the women’s bonuses come exclusively from the association’s budget, in other words, it is funded by the organisation’s income," Nurminen explained via email.

No IIHF prize money for women's games

The Finnish Ice Hockey Association SJL could also adopt a different approach to distributing the international federation’s prize money, Nurminen said, noting that it is not specifically earmarked for the men’s team.

"The SJL does in fact, do this. In practice, both the men’s and women’s bonuses are funded from our other income. It is just a question of which income stream it comes from," he noted.

The SJL has previously said that it has aspired to promote equality in the IIHF by increasing competition prize money, and it continues to do so. During the 2017 women’s ice hockey world championship, the SJL budgeted a bonus of 2,000 euros per player for a gold medal outcome. Two years later, a win would have earned each player 7,000 euros. It said that it is still pushing for a boost to women’s bonuses at the international level.

"We have sent the IIHF a written petition asking for prize money for women’s games as well," Nurminen commented.

According to Nurminen the SJL’s total annual budget runs to about 20 million euros. The women’s tournament that wrapped up on Sunday night in Espoo resulted in a six-figure loss.

"Every year the SJL’s decision-making bodies consider how to use the money to develop ice hockey from an educational perspective. Organising the women’s ice hockey world championship is an investment by the association in women’s and girls’ ice hockey," Nurminen concluded.

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