It may be 2022, but fairer compensation at all levels for professional athletes is still a huge debate across the world. And some governing bodies are making greater progress than their counterparts in terms of leveling the playing field, with tennis being one of the first to announce equal prize money for winning one of its four Grand Slam tournaments (Open Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open).
That makes racket sport the most gender equal in the world, according to research by Casumo ahead of Equal Pay Day on Sept. 18.e. But men still typically earn more than professional women due to senior endorsement deals, creating a 53% gender pay gap.
Although he hasn’t played as much in recent years due to recurring injuries, Roger Federer still holds the top spot in the men’s game – with £90m in endorsements from Japanese clothing brands. Uniqlo and Swiss clothing company On over the past year, making the 41-year-old, who was the highest paid athlete in 2020, the sport’s seventh highest earner this year.
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On the other hand, former ATP No.1 Naomi Osaka has earned £59m this year, a slight drop from 2021 earnings. Surprisingly, however, only £1m of the four-time Grand Slam winners’ wages came from actual tennis prize money – with £58million coming from deals with similar designer brands. Louis Vuittonwatch company Tag Heuerclothing giants Nike and Beats by Dre making her the highest paid sportswoman in the world and 19e on the global list.
There is still a huge equal pay gap in football that many will say needs to be closed. Highest-paid male player Lionel Messi earns a whopping 2,067% more than United States Women’s National Team striker and world-renowned superstar Alex Morgan.
The tricky Argentine has been the highest-paid athlete in the world for the past 12 months, as he earned £130million last year, or £250 per minute, with endorsement deals from Adidas and beverage companies Pepsi and Budweiser representing 40% of its income. Morgan – a staunch advocate of equal pay – on the other hand, earned just £6m (or £11.42 per minute) from his deals with Nike and Coca Cola.
It’s a similar story in basketball. Los Angeles Lakers’ Lebron James is, unsurprisingly, the highest earner in the men’s game – earning £120m last year. The 37-year-old man, who Forbes thinks he’s a billionaire, has made more money off the pitch than ever before in the past 12 months (£68.5m) – with mentions such as walmartgodfather for life Nike and PepsiCoin addition to playing Space Jam: A New Legacy.
Candace Parker, who won the 2021 Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) with Chicago Sky in 2021, has a much lower income. With the WNBA capping salaries at around £171,000, the 36-year-old relies heavily on endorsements – which has seen her earn around £4.7m from people like Adidas, Capital one and Carmax Last year.
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