RFU Commercial Director Sophie Goldschmidt insists focus is needed for sporstwomens sponsorship
RFU Commercial Director Sophie Goldschmidt insists strides are being taken to increase sportswomen's sponsorship.
Last Updated: 18/03/14 12:40pm
A Sky Sports Survey online revealed that 37% thought governing bodies were the ones most responsible to increase sportswomen's commercial deals while 13% said it was up to the individual athletes to gain endorsement deals.
But Goldschmidt explained that there are many reasons that can be held accountable for this divide and suggested that we should see this margin decrease with the increase of media covering women sport.
"It does sound alarmingly low but what I would say is, is that huge strides are being taken and having worked in sport for over a decade I have seen huge steps being taken forward and even though the gap is getting smaller there is clearly a long way to go," Goldschmidt said.
"But a lot of sports are relatively new and not professional yet but clearly there needs to be more focus.
"I think for most companies it is about return on investment and getting real value for money so this depends on how much media coverage athletes and sports are getting, but when I look at the coverage the women are getting in rugby we've taken significant increases in the right direction."
However Goldschmidt admitted that this divide cannot be compared to sponsorship for female athletes in the USA and that many more sports need to be more proactive to gain commercial deals for their sportswomen.
The Director also stated that she thinks brands are not only offering sponsorship to female athletes who are stereotypically attractive and are instead looking at the broader credibility of the sportsperson.
"Different brands and different sports need to take a leadership role and some have been more proactive than others," Goldschmidt said.
"I think its collective responsibly. The women's RFU was integrated into the RFU last season which was a big step forward.
"The USA is very different to the UK is terms of sponsorship which is why it is quite hard to compare the two.
"They are bigger, they are a more mature market forma sports perspective and there is more money across the board. After Title Nine was introduced in the 70's this accelerated the commercial opportunities for sportswomen and it was a fundamental change.
"I think it depends what a brand is looking for to be honest and I think when you look across all sports there are some very attractive athletes that have some fantastic endorsement deals but I think it is a lot broader than that and now people are looking at the credibility of the athlete - more than just looks ."
Goldschmidt also admitted that women's rugby saw an increase in participation when England hosted the women's 2010 World Cup and were runners up to New Zealand.
However she is adamant that there are still improvements to be made and the RFU have set themselves new targets to increase the amount of women playing contact sport in the UK by 2017.
"The women have been playing fantastically well for a few years and we saw a real transition when we hosted the women's world cup in 2010 and were runners up from new Zealand and since then the women's has gone to a new level," Goldschmidt said.
"It's a real focus and a priority for the RFU and in general we want to grow rugby at all levels for both men and women so I wouldn't say that our strategy is gender specific - but we do have a real focus on certain women's initiatives and that is across all forms of rugby.
"There are some great athletes playing women's rugby and again that opens everyone's eyes to the potential that can be achieved. There are currently 15,000 women playing contact sport and we want to increase this by 10,000 before 2017.
"But sevens is now a focus as the sport is now included in the 2016 Olympics and offers a new avenue in the sport for people to get involved in."