Discrimination Against Women in Budget Allocation for Soccer Teams
On August 25, 2019, we submitted a joint amicus brief request with the Israel Women’s Network to join a petition against discriminatory budgeting for women’s soccer.
The petition was submitted by nine teams and entities representing various women’s soccer clubs, and targets the budget cutbacks of teams playing league soccer following the revocation of recognition for the women’s Premier League (which had been the most elite women’s soccer league).
In the appeal, we claimed that the budgeting for women’s soccer leagues is based on discriminatory guidelines. These guidelines have dictated that in the absence of a third women’s league, the most elite women’s team (at the Premier League level) receives the same budget allocation as the second most-elite men’s league (the National League level, one level below the Premier League). Similarly, the second women’s league (the National League) receives a budget allocation at the level of the third men’s league (“Liga ha-Artzit,” known as Ligat Aleph, or the A League).
This is just one of many mechanisms that demonstrate the discrimination faced by Israeli women in sports, in general, and particularly in soccer.
Ultimately, despite explicit statements from legislators about the importance of equality in sports, adult women barely benefit from the money invested into sports, receiving a negligible portion. Even when discussing public funding, adult women, who make up 50% of the population, are the beneficiaries of just 25% of all annual government support granted to adult athletic associations. For youth, that proportion is even less: one sixth of all government support for youth sport activities goes to young women and girls. We emphasized that the basic guidelines and structure for public funding are unequal and create this discrepancy. Even attempts to rectify the situation through an approach of affirmative action has no impact when the system itself is based on problematic guidelines.
We noted that the harm does not only take the form of inadequate and inferior budgets allocated to these appellants, but it also further thwarts hopes for entire generations of athletes, by denying girls equal opportunities. Girls are prevented from having sports heroines and are denied role models to be inspired by or to aspire toward. Moreover, recognizing the connection between sports participation and heightened self-confidence and developed leadership, this discriminatory system harms the ability of women to be full partners in their society.
As a result of our petition, the Ministry of Culture and Sport annulled the discriminatory clause in the budgeting guidelines for soccer teams. On February 7, 2021, after deciding to award the petitioners an exceptional amount of damages, the court ruled that having achieved its objective, the petition could now be closed.
Attorney: Sharon Avraham-Weiss
For further information (Hebrew)