Equality in sports

A young girl stands alone in an empty gym with a basketball under her arm.

The realisation of gender equality in sports continues to pose challenges. Equality should be viewed as the provision of equal opportunities and resources and equitable treatment, attitudes and everyday acts.

It is important for gender equality that society equally supports sports activities of girls, boys, women and men as well as trans people. Everyone should have equal opportunities to engage in sports and physical activity, receive competent coaching, participate in competitions and receive equal recognition for their performances.

The requirement for the realisation of actually non-discriminatory and equal conditions should be observed in all decision-making related to sports and physical exercise. Gender equality should also be observed in the award practices of sports contests, and the valuation of a performance or the prize awarded for it may not depend on the participant’s gender.

The importance of equality and non-discrimination in sports is addressed in the Act on the Promotion of Sports and Physical Activity, as equality and non-discrimination are mentioned as the basis of the Act. According to the Act, when assessing the amount of state aid of sports federations and organisations promoting sports and physical activity, the ways in which the association promotes equality and non-discrimination are taken into account. This is why all sports and physical activity organisations applying for state aid are required to have a non-discrimination and equality plan. The example set by sports federations can influence attitudes and practices related to sport and physical activity at the national level.

The Ombudsman for Equality has been regularly asked to assess whether various activities and practices related to sports and physical activity are in accordance with the Equality Act. In her statements, the Ombudsman for Equality has paid attention to aspects such as the visibility of female athletes in the media, the award practices of sports competitions and the sharing principles of sports hall reservations.

The cases related to sports and physical activity handled by the Ombudsman for Equality have shown that systematic work to promote gender equality must be carried out at all levels of activities. This often requires changes in practices and attitudes as well as courage to intervene in shortcomings that have come up.