BREAKING: World Surf League Chooses To Pay Equal Prize Money For All Women’s Events!
FEATURE // WORLD SURF LEAGUE
After intense pressure from mainstream media and an outcry after a Pro Junior event in South Africa earlier this year, when the female winner was standing on the podium with a cheque half the sum of the males. The WSL today has announced a historic and refreshing statement to cover two incredible pinnacles; Firstly, The WSL will award equal prize money to both male and female surfers in every event for 2019 (This includes Championship Tour, the Longboard Tour, the World Junior Championships and the Big Wave Tour starting on October 1st, 2018 (to March 2019) WQS events not owned by the WSL can choose to stay the same, or change). Secondly, Commissioner Jessie Miley-Dyer has been named the single Commissioner for both the men’s and women’s tours.
Jessie, an ex-WCT surfer during the ASP’s era has said via her social media overnight, “Today the WSL announces equal prize money for all our women’s tours and events that we control. I have always dared to believe that this day would come. And I’ve been here for a long time. From 2005-2012 I was the women’s surfer rep and then a director on the ASP board, (after learning from Layne Beachley and Kate Wilcomes who came before me). After that, I became the first and only woman in the commissioner’s office.
“This is not for me personally, but I feel like it is. It’s something that I’m more proud of than anything in my competitive career. Thank you, Dirk and Natasha, Sophie and the rest of our ownership team. Thank you for believing too!”
And in response to our announcement story, Jessie added, “This is a team effort. Today is the best day of my career. I’m so happy to have this for the next generation. Onwards and upwards.”
So why is this a meaningful day in women’s sport? Surfing is not among the top sports in the world, yet it’s world championship body has taken a step, to address equality for its athletes. This decision will affect not only the top WCT athletes, but will trickle down and assist the qualifying series surfers, many of who don’t have financial support through sponsorship, and again the juniors and the grass-roots at regional and national levels. Like the change we saw in professionalism when the ASP became the WSL, you will again see another step up in our sport.
Even if it doesn’t feel like much now, in a decade you’ll look back on this point, and remember a time before equality was normalised. You’ll think back to a time when you felt like asking for a fair-go was like walking across a pit of hot coals. But for our daughters, it won’t be like that. Times are changing. Be brave when you see inequality because every point and every action makes a difference.
Read the full press release issued by the WSL, below.
The World Surf League (WSL) today announced that it will award equal prize money to male and female athletes for every WSL-controlled event in the 2019 season and beyond, becoming the first and only US based global sports league, and among the first internationally, to achieve prize money equality. The WSL is proud of its commitment to gender equality, and proud to join other organizations beyond the world of sport reaching this important milestone.
WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said, “This is a huge step forward in our long-planned strategy to elevate women’s surfing and we are thrilled to make this commitment as we reveal our new 2019 schedule. This is the latest in a series of actions the League has undertaken to showcase our female athletes, from competing on the same quality waves as the men, to better locations, and increased investment and support.”
Goldschmidt continued, “This change is simply the right thing to do for the WSL and we would like to thank the many advocates who have worked for decades to help advance women’s surfing. We want to be at the forefront of pushing for equality in all walks of life, starting on the waves, and we feel very lucky to have women on our tour who are highly talented, iconic role models, and more than deserve this recognition as they stand alongside our extraordinary male athletes.”
Stephanie Gilmore, six-time World Champion, said, “This is incredible, and I am thrilled. The prize money is fantastic, but the message means even more. From the moment current ownership became involved, the situation for the women surfers has been transformed for the better in every way. We have been so appreciative, but this takes it to another level. I hope this serves as a model for other sports, global organizations and society as a whole. My fellow women athletes and I are honored by the confidence in us, and inspired to reward this decision with ever higher levels of surfing.”
Kelly Slater, holder of 11 World Championships and 55 Championship tour event victories, said, “The women on the tour deserve this change. I’m so proud that surfing is choosing to lead sports in equality and fairness. The female WSL athletes are equally committed to their craft as the male athletes and should be paid the same. Surfing has always been a pioneering sport, and this serves as an example of that.”
Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner said, “Today is a huge moment for the sport of surfing. With our 2019 calendar (link below), new season and dates, we are proud to confirm the new prize money equality will be in effect. This covers all WSL-controlled events: the Championship Tour, the Longboard Tour, the World Junior Championships and includes the Big Wave Tour starting on October 1st, 2018 to March 2019. We will be working with our partners at competitions where we don’t control prize money, such as certain Qualifying Series events, to achieve equality as soon as possible.”
The WSL continues to be one of the fastest-growing sports leagues globally, continually expanding its reach and fan base. WSL content and live coverage is now digitally available in every market and over 100 linear broadcasters now cover its events, including this week’s groundbreaking competition at the human-made wave at Surf Ranch. Surfing has also been added to the roster for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, introducing the sport to new audiences.
In further support of its commitment to women’s surfing, today the WSL also announces three initiatives which will launch in 2019:
A global marketing campaign to highlight the women’s tour as well as increase event viewership and fan engagement.
An local community engagement program for girls around the world, featuring instructional clinics with WSL athletes at each women’s Championship Tour stop to inspire the next generation to embrace surfing.
A monthly content series about the pioneering women of surfing, celebrating them across WSL channels, starting next week with seven-time World Champion Layne Beachley.
The World Surf League has continued to feature the world’s best surfers on the world’s best waves, creating inclusive, exciting, high-quality events enjoyed by millions of fans around the world. A key focus in recent years has been to increase the investment in women’s surfing:
Combined men’s and women’s Championship Tour events have increased from four to nine.
- Women’s Championship Tour prize money has risen by 153% per event.
- 64 global women’s events scheduled for 2019 – up from 14 just seven years ago.
- The addition of two historic women’s Big Wave Tour events in Pe’ahi and Mavericks.
- Appointment of the WSL’s first female CEO in 2017.
- Development of the co-ed, region vs. region Founders’ Cup, with multiple teams lead by female captains.
*WSL investment timeline in women’s surfing to date:
2013: Eight Women’s Championship Tour events. The WSL now invests in 10.
Includes world-class venues Jeffreys Bay, Fiji (now Bali), Trestles (now Surf Ranch) and Maui.
Since 2013: Prize money per event for the women on the CT has increased by 153%.
2014: The WSL institutes pay parity for the men’s and women’s Championship Tour (CT) – all surfers, men and women, earn the same average prize money per surfer.
2016: Women compete in the Big Wave Tour at Pe’ahi for the very first time.
2017: The WSL appoints its first female CEO, Sophie Goldschmidt.
2018: The WSL execute world-first co-ed, region vs. region Founders’ Cup.
2018: Two Big Wave Tour (BWT) events scheduled for women: Pe’ahi and Mavericks.
2019: Full prize money equality covering the Championship Tour, the Longboard Tour, the World Junior Championships and the Big Wave Tour starting on October 1st, 2018 (to March 2019).
Future: Working with event partners, the institution of equal prize money across all non-WSL-controlled Qualifying Series (QS) and Pro Junior events).