Significant Step Towards Equality for Women in Sports
On September 5, 2019 the Be’er Sheva District Court accepted the position put forth by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and instructed the Be’er Sheva Municipality to increase support for women’s soccer teams in the city. In the verdict, Justice Gad Gideon quotes ACRI’s position, according to which, “Today’s accepted criteria lead to a budgetary preference towards more veteran and popular groups in a manner that creates a vicious cycle, whereby a small, less popular group cannot compete because the rules of the game are to its disadvantage.”
The Court heard a petition filed by Hapoel Be’er Sheva’s women’s team against the budgetary discrimination that the team faces as compared to the men’s team. ACRI joined the process as a “friend of the court” and presented to the court how, despite various statements on the matter claiming otherwise, the budgetary discrimination between men and women in sports is entrenched and is only being exacerbated.
Judge Gideon ruled that local authorities must act equitably, including regarding supporting sports teams. He also adopted ACRI’s position that budget considerations pertaining to ratings work to the detriment of weaker teams.
The verdict determines that due to restrictions imposed by the municipality, in practice the women’s team received less financial support than to which it was entitled. The verdict also stated that women’s teams are at an inherent disadvantage because they cannot raise revenues to the same extent as their male counterparts. “The historical bias maintains the status quo: low budgeting for economically disadvantaged entities, further eroding the scope and level of activity.”
The judge determined that the municipality must take affirmative action and increase the budgets allotted to women’s teams. He also instructed the municipality to allow Hapoel Be’er Sheva’s women’s team equal use of Turner Stadium in Be’er Sheva, subject to the team meeting the conditions required to use the site.
Attorney Sharon Abraham-Weiss, CEO of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, who represented ACRI in the hearing: “This is an important verdict, because for the first time the court recognizes that allotting financial support based on ratings and popularity significantly handicaps women’s sports. Sports are a wonderful tool to promote and nurture girls, young and adult women; despite various statements attempting to convince otherwise, women’s sports lags far behind that of men. We hope that this verdict will serve as a significant step towards reaching true equality in sports.”