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Equal Pay for Equal Play – How Women’s FIFA Sponsors are Breaking Barriers for Women in Sport

Equal Pay for Equal Play – How Women’s FIFA Sponsors are Breaking Barriers for Women in Sport

4 Minute Read

  • As the USWNT embarks on their celebration tour, conversations surrounding equal pay are taking center stage

  • Canadian FIFA fans are 54% more likely than the avg. Canadian sports fan to agree that female athletes should earn as much as male athletes

  • FIFA sponsors have leveraged their sponsorships to convey their values while simultaneously staying atop of relevant conversations of the day


The Women’s FIFA World Cup wrapped up on July 6th, when the United States National Women’s Team (USWNT) team sealed their victory over the Netherlands. As the USWNT embarks on their celebration tour, conversations surrounding equal pay are taking center stage - before the World Cup began the USWNT filed a gender discrimination class action lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, arguing that they do the same job as their male counterparts, however they receive lower wages and work in worse conditions. Given how it’s the women who secured the US’ first World Cup (in fact this is their 3rd title), they are making a great case for themselves, and players are more outspoken than ever, building a coalition of support among fans and activists alike.

MKTG Canada’s Decoding research study informs us just how much soccer fans care about social activism. Canadian sports fans who are most passionate about Professional Soccer turn out to be 131% more likely to be interested/passionate about social activism than the avg. Canadian sports fan. Beyond that, there’s strong evidence that fans don’t want their National athletes to be silent on issues they care about either – with fans of Professional Soccer at a National Team/Tournament level being 41% more likely than the avg. Canadian sports Fan to agree that athletes should speak up on social issues. Finally, when we dig into FIFA World Cup fans in particular, they’re 54% more likely than the avg. Canadian sports fan to agree that female athletes should earn as much as male athletes – reflective of the “Equal Pay! Equal Pay!” chants that fans echoed throughout the stands following the US’ victory.

Sponsors are recognizing the need to be vocal, too. Even before US Captain and fan-favourite Megan Rapinoe’s response when asked if she would like to visit the White House, FIFA sponsors have attached themselves to not solely the FIFA property, but the social causes that are intrinsic to the Women’s World Cup. As a result, these sponsorships come across as authentic efforts to break barriers for women.

The following FIFA sponsors have leveraged their sponsorship to convey their values while simultaneously staying atop of relevant conversations of the day, including equal pay for women, access to opportunities, and diverse representation.

adidas US’ Breaking Barriers Campaign

As part of its Breaking Barriers campaign in the US, the sportswear giant announced that all adidas athletes on the winning 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup team will receive the same performance bonus payout as their male peers. Throughout the World Cup, adidas has pushed content featuring their female soccer ambassadors, aligned with their efforts to level the playing field for women by creating more visibility, highlighted in this striking commercial about the lack of visibility for women in sports. adidas did a great job of leveraging their FIFA sponsorship to align with their Breaking Barriers campaign and mission authentically, putting “practice what you preach” into actuality.

Coca-Cola France & Force Femmes

Coca-Cola France has supported Force Femmes for over 10 years, which supports women over 45 to start businesses. This joint work enabled 10,000 women to return to employment and business creation in all French regions, including 30,000 hours of training and coaching. To support their FIFATM Women's World Cup sponsorship, Coca-Cola and Force Femmes co-organized several lunches, bringing together local elected officials, journalists and active members of the association. These lunches were opportunities to elevate the believes of women and football, and was a reaffirmation for Coca-Cola’s commitment for the Force Femmes Organization and the advancement of women both in sport and life. Read more about Coca-Cola France’s World Cup efforts here.

Qatar Airways Supports a Young Athlete

The airline partnered with the Save the Dream charity to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a young footballer named Jessica from Brazil. Jessica journey was documented and featured on @QatarAirways IG TV and Facebook, capitalizing on the great content opportunity. She travelled to France to experience the Women’s World Cup, as well as Qatar to play with a local football team. It was a subtle way to showcase the luxury of travelling first class on the airline, as well as their hospitality.

Jessica and Save the Dream are involved in an awareness campaign to empower and encourage young women to participate in sport, regardless of socio-economic conditions, a major barrier inhibiting access to sport. The content was well-received online, and effectively showcases Qatar Airlines’ commitment to FIFA as a sponsor, as well as the development of the game for girls and women.


Defenders of the status quo say that men's soccer is far more popular and makes more money, suggesting higher salaries for male stars are justified. However, brands and athletes are taking strides towards equality to bridge the gap for equity which, in turn, will enable women’s sport to step out of the shadows of their male counterparts and into the primetime television spots, increasing popularity among fans. Research shows that fans want to see more from sponsors when it come to supporting women in sport. It’s the efforts from sponsors like the ones mentioned in this blog that are helping to bridge this gap by creating opportunities for young women and supporting professional female athletes financially through sponsorship, while simultaneously developing positive brand equity.

The Uswnt is breaking barriers for women in sport – and their FIFA win is boosting the fight for equal pay.

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This Blog was powered by MKTG’s Decoding Canada research study.
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