How big is the gender pay gap in Dutch professional football?

Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 12:28 pm• Tom Rofekamp

The 2022 European Women’s Football Championship officially kicked off on Wednesday with the game between England and Austria. Because of the tournament, the magnifying glass is therefore extra focused on the Orange Lionesses. The KNVB already announced at the end of June that the Dutch women’s team would collect the same premiums as the men from 1 July, taking a major step in closing the gender pay gap. But what about the clubs? And the rewards for achievements in international final tournaments?

The KNVB statement at the end of June was called ‘a historic milestone’ by director Jan Dirk van der Zee, who is responsible for women’s football, among other things. Everything that the association has control over – for example carrying out commercial activities for the sponsors of the KNVB and the compensation of name and portrait rights – is aligned with the men’s branch. The orange premium, the daily fee for participating in European and World Championships, will also be the same.

However, there is still a big bridge to be built. For example, the premiums that UEFA pays for performances at the current European Championship cannot yet be compared with those of the men. Even within the club, the relations are still quite skewed. Savings platform analyzed the salaries of the highest paid players of the Dutch men’s team and those of the Orange Lionesses and drew clear-cut conclusions.

Lieke Martens vs. Frenkie de Jong

When Lieke Martens left for Barcelona in July 2017, it leaked that the star player would earn 200,000 euros on an annual basis. At the same time, male counterpart Lionel Messi earned 138 million (!) per calendar year. However, Martens recently left for Paris Saint-Germain, where she ended up in more lucrative waters. The 29-year-old winger is now going to earn about half a million per season. This puts Martens in the same salary class as Bruno Martins Indi (who earns 452,400 euros per year at AZ) and Mike van der Hoorn (542,880 euros).

Compare that, however, with the annual reward for Frenkie de Jong and the differences become painfully clear. marca wrote that the technician can add about 22 million annually, while de Volkskrant even mentioned 16 million euros. De Jong earns the amount that Martens receives per year per match† That doesn’t even include any performance bonuses (when the midfielder plays 60% of Barcelona’s matches and wins trophies or reaches a Champions League final).

Vivianne Miedema vs. Virgil van Dijk

Although it is not known what Miedema will earn after signing her new contract with Arsenal, she did say “that she thought she would become the highest paid football player in England” in an interview with de Volkskrant† According to The Telegraph the average salary in the Women’s Super League (the female branch of the Premier League) is around 23,500 euros per year, but it is clear that Miedema gets more. The English daily writes in the same article – dating from March 8 – that an English player at that time was about to sign a contract worth 350,000 euros on an annual basis. This allegedly pushed the upper limit of the female salary spectrum. Assuming that Miedema earns an annual salary comparable to this amount, there is still a huge gap with that of Van Dijk. The Athletic know that the stopper at Liverpool catches around 13 million euros per year.

A long way to go

The gap becomes even more evident when the salaries of other supporting players are included in the equation. For example, Matthijs de Ligt (7.3 million euros) and Memphis Depay (5 million) are with their annual fees at (more than) one hundred times the average of the Orange Lionesses, which is about 50,000 euros.

The higher fees for male professional footballers have their explanations, but they are disproportionate. For example, men’s matches are more attractive to advertisers and sponsors, which means that clubs, but also UEFA and FIFA, bring in more money. This is reflected in, among other things, salaries and prize money. The fact that the men won fifteen times (!) as much prize money at the 2018 World Cup as the women a year later, does not go hand in hand with the threefold number of viewers. This European Championship amounts to around 16 million euros for the women, a doubling compared to 2017. This is a significant development, but compared to last year’s European Championships for men there is a negative difference of 355 million euros.

However, the popularity of the Orange Lionesses is increasing, and so are the salaries. Where many football players previously needed a side job to make ends meet, that seems to be becoming more and more the exception than the rule. The more viewers, the more the annual fees will increase. According to Van der Zee, the KNVB is explicitly knocking on the door of UEFA and FIFA to also increase the tournament premiums, which would be the next step. However, it is still unclear how quickly and whether the gap will be completely closed.

This article has been produced thanks to research by highest savings