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South Africa's Banyana Banyana

Banyana Banyana’s World Cup Triumph: Exposing South Africa’s Gender Pay Gap in Football

South Africa’s Banyana Banyana’s groundbreaking journey to the Women’s World Cup knockouts shone a spotlight on their disparity in pay and resources, especially when compared to their male counterparts who historically haven’t reached the same level of success.

Earlier this month, in Australia and New Zealand, Banyana Banyana made history by advancing to the last 16 of the World Cup, marking a first for any South African football team, male or female. Yet, their monumental achievement was marred by a preceding dispute with the South African Football Association (SAFA) over bonus payments.

While SAFA announced a resolution last month, thanks to a charitable donation, the controversy underscored the persistent inequalities in compensation between male and female players. A 2022 probe by South Africa’s Commission for Gender Equity disclosed that Banyana Banyana players were not rewarded at the same rate as their male peers.

For example, the women’s team from South Africa was awarded a bonus of 55,000 rand ($2,885) for advancing to the finals of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, which they ultimately clinched. In stark contrast, the men’s team would have been granted a 250,000 rand bonus for qualifying for the World Cup in Qatar – a feat they failed to achieve.

The disparity in remuneration between male and female footballers isn’t exclusive to South Africa. In March, FIFA unveiled a $152 million prize pool for the Women’s World Cup, tripling the sum from the prior competition and magnifying it tenfold from two tournaments ago. Yet, this amount pales in comparison to the $440 million allocated for the men’s event in Qatar.

Linda Zwane, the vice president of SAFA, conveyed her appreciation for the challenges faced by the women’s team and expressed that lessons were learned. She further expressed hope that the focus could now shift to the upcoming tournament rather than disputes over payment.