Sports Shorts Blog – The Gender Pay Gap and the Women’s World Cup

The gender pay gap debate continues in business as it has for a number of years. Confusion surrounding the topic remains widespread with many conflating it with equal pay and others denying its existence entirely.  Companies in the UK are now publishing their latest gender pay gap figures and the data reveals that men are typically paid more than women in most UK businesses.

But what are the implications in sport?  It is no secret that female athletes are paid less than men across most sports.  We are told that this is because interest in women’s sport is lower and as far as entertainment events go, they generate less money. That said, the disparate compensation, even at large combined tournaments (like golf and tennis) still requires our attention (for example, when in 2016 it was noted that at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati Roger Federer received $731,000 for defending his title while Serena Williams received $495,000 for defending hers just a few hours later). Fortunately for female professional tennis players, tennis has made huge progress paying women and men the same at Grand Slams and certain combined ATP 1000/WTA Premier Mandatory tournaments. Equal pay for equal play, right?

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NO TRY – World Rugby’s Nations Championship proposal is ruled out

Rugby Goal PostsWorld Rugby has abandoned its plans to launch a new Nations Championship competition after failing to get the necessary support for the project. World Rugby required unanimous backing from the ten nations who comprise the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship by 19 June 2019, however this was never achieved. Sports Shorts previously discussed the pros and cons of the proposal, but it appears that the concerns of some nations have collapsed the project just short of the try-line.

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Caster Semenya & ASA vs the IAAF – what it means for women and sport

On 1 May 2019, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (“CAS”) delivered its ruling in the requests for arbitration by Caster Semenya and Athletics South Africa (“ASA”) against the International Association of Athletics Federation (the “IAAF”). CAS dismissed the requests, upholding the validity of the new IAAF Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sex Development) (the “Regulations”), which require 46 XY chromosome female athletes with differences in sex development (“DSD”) to reduce their testosterone levels in order to compete internationally in the female classification in certain track events.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal, to which Semenya has now appealed, has since ordered the IAAF to suspend the implementation of the Regulations and has given the IAAF until 25 June 2019 to respond.

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Luxury tax and competitive balance in football – continued

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has renewed his call for a luxury tax system in football. Sports Shorts previously covered the role luxury tax has played in the NBA and the extent to which this could be applied in the game of football in Europe, following similar comments by Ceferin in 2017.

In summary, a luxury tax system would involve the imposition of a cap on the amounts that teams can spend on player salaries (and perhaps transfer spending too) in each season. If a team exceeds the cap, they pay a tax for every dollar, pound or euro spent above the cap. The revenues generated by the tax are then distributed amongst compliant teams who do not exceed the cap. Continue Reading

The Law Versus the Spirit of Cricket

Indian Premier League

Over the last decade, the Indian Premier League (“IPL”), a marquee Indian cricket event and an international premier Twenty20 cricket competition, has transformed cricket into more than just a “gentleman’s game.”  The IPL, founded and organized by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”), is a cricketing festival that hosts every top Indian and international cricket player, along with a multitude of corporate houses and Bollywood celebrities, making it the richest professional cricket competition worldwide.

IPL’s brand value has increased at a significant pace, and in 2018 its value was approximated at a staggering US$ 6.3 billion. IPL has also established itself as India’s favorite primetime television show.  This can be substantiated by the fact that in 2017 Star India Private Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company India, paid US$ 2.55 billion for its broadcasting rights for a period of five years.

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Taking the shine off the World Cup? Corruption is just not cricket

The first over of the 2019 Cricket World Cup will be bowled on Thursday 30 May as England take on South Africa at the Oval.  The World Cup is part of an exciting summer of cricket in this country, with a home Ashes series to look forward to in August.

It is perhaps a foregone conclusion as to the kind of reception Aussies Steve Smith and David Warner will receive from the stands in the wake of their bans for ball tampering.  One can almost see the sand paper costumes already.

However, it is the more widespread and organised threats to the sport’s integrity which are high on the agenda for the International Cricket Council (“ICC”) at the World Cup.  Continue Reading

Houston, We Have Table Tennis!

A recent announcement by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is a sign of the ever-increasing popularity of table tennis globally and in the United States, and reminds us of the power of sports to bring people together.

In addition to being an Olympic sport, table tennis holds an annual World Table Tennis Championship, with individual events (men’s and women’s singles and doubles) in odd years and team events in even years.  During this year’s championship held in Budapest, it was announced that Houston, Texas will host the 2021 World Table Tennis Championship, and Chengdu, China will host the event in 2022.  2021 will mark the first time the United States has hosted the event and the first time it will be held outside of Europe or Asia since 1939.  Indeed, ITTF chief executive Steve Dainton said: “We noticed raised interest in hosting the World Championships Finals, due to the expansion of the competition from 2021, which adds even more value and prestige. The quality of the bids we received is fantastic news for table tennis globally.”   To illustrate this added prestige, the 2021 event will be held at Houston’s Toyota Center, a larger and more high-profile venue than is typical for international table tennis events.

The ITTF is among the most inclusive sports federations in the world with 227 countries and territories forming its membership.  Houston, being among the most diverse cities in the United States, was a natural fit to host this international event.  Whereas table tennis in the United States has largely been confined to the basement, competitive table tennis has been steadily gaining in popularity in recent years in the United States, particularly among immigrant communities.  Choosing Houston as the site of the world championships will only further accelerate this process.

Notably, the United States and China agreed to support their respective bids.  Prominent supporters of the bids for Houston and Chengdu included former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming and Christopher Nixon Cox, President Richard Nixon’s grandson.  It certainly is no coincidence that 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of “ping pong diplomacy,” when the United States table tennis team was invited to China to play exhibition matches against the Chinese team.  They were the first American delegation in China’s capital since 1949, paving the way for President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.

So whether you call it ping-pong or table tennis, the future of the sport is certainly bright.

NBA Draft Lottery 2019 – a turning point for struggling NBA franchises

The NBA Draft Lottery takes place on 14 May 2019. As previously reported on Sports Shorts, the lottery is the process by which teams are allocated their position in the order for the NBA Draft. This process determines which team will have the number 1 pick, and thus have priority in choosing the best talent available in the draft (hint: Zion Williamson).

The 14 teams that did not qualify for the NBA playoffs consist of the lottery pool. The process is not dissimilar from the conventional lottery that we may enter at home. There are 1,001 possible numerical combinations, which are divided amongst these 14 teams. The team with the worst regular season record receives the most combinations whilst the team with the best regular season record (of those that did not qualify for the playoffs) receives the least amount of combinations. Continue Reading

The NBA’s best current rivalry: Rockets v Warriors or Rockets v Referees?

Last year’s dramatic Western Conference final match-up between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets ended with the Warriors winning 4-3. The Warriors advanced to the NBA Finals and achieved their second consecutive NBA Championship. This year, they look to do the three-peat.

The Rockets have a chance for revenge this year, facing the Warriors in the Western Conference semi-final. Despite conceding the first two games held at the Warriors’ Oracle Arena, the Rockets won both games at home, tying the series 2-2. Continue Reading