Mind The (Gender) Gap

While the men’s Premier League took a brief hiatus for the last week due to international commitments (and wasn’t it telling, by the way, to see how poorly received the England team was against Ukraine on Tuesday evening?) some instructively unsavoury news emerged from the women’s game to once again highlight just how far the discrepancies between forms of the game stretch at the elite level.

While teenaged talents Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were strutting their stuff with the main England squad, Leigh Nicol’s father was making a public plea for funding to allow her to achieve reach the heights her talent deserves with Arsenal Football Club. A prodigious talent, Nicol is widely regarded as one of the brightest prospects in the women’s game and a star of the sport for years to come. A Scotland youth international with 18 youth-level caps, Nicol was offered the opportunity to join Arsenal from Celtic and take a huge step towards breaking into elite levels.

A perfect situation on all sides, yet – and here’s the clincher – money may yet scupper the move entirely. Without delving too far into the complexities of formal remuneration in the women’s game, Nicol is essentially required to self-fund her footballing education in England – and must do so without governmental support as she will be attending college, not university, during her stint in England. The sums she needs to raise, £11,000 over the next two years, are minuscule in comparison to the money flung around the men’s game where wages in excess of £50,000 are not uncommon on a weekly basis, yet significant enough to potentially jeopardise her ability to take up the scholarship place that her talent demands.

As we will continually reiterate at The Sportist, women’s football continues to make astounding strides towards equality. The one arena in which it cannot compete, and probably never will, remains the fiscal – that talented young women should still be held back in a game so patently awash with excess money remains a sad indictment of the gender status quo.

FYI – If you would like to help out Leigh, e-mail leigh.nicol@hotmail.co.uk and visit www.facebook.com/helpleigh for further information on her project.

CS

Image from http://www.wishawpress.co.uk/ (thanks!)

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