TTFI announces equal prize money for men and women paddlers

NEW DELHI: In a probably first-of-its-kind decision in Indian sports, the Delhi High Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) of the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) announced on Thursday “gender equality” in prize money payments to men and women TT players from new season onwards. The upcoming season will run from June to March 2023.

The three-member committee, headed by retired Delhi High Court chief justice Gita Mittal, expressed “deep concern over the discriminatory treatment meted out to women and girl players in table tennis in the context of award of prize money and payments” and decided that “hereby women and girl players shall receive equal pay/awards/prize money as their male counterparts in all tournaments and competitions of the game of table tennis”.

At the 83rd senior national and inter-state table tennis championships, held between April 18-25, 2021 in Shillong, the men’s singles champion had received the winner’s cheque of Rs 275,000, while the women’s singles winner had taken home a pay cheque of Rs 180,000.

Similarly, the men’s singles losing finalist had pocketed Rs 137,500 in prize money, while the women’s singles runner-up had got Rs 90,000. The two men’s singles semifinalists were awarded Rs 68,500 each, while the women semifinalists received 45,000 each. The losing men’s quarterfinalists took home Rs 27,500 each and women’s Rs 22,000 each.

The CoA, in its decision, stated that during the Nationals in Shillong, the difference in payments in the singles events came to the fore, which “is disconcerting because the effort needed, proficiency and skills required as well as the level of competition in a girls’ game, is in no way lesser than that exhibited in a men’s or boys’ game”. The equal prize money distribution to players will be applicable at the senior, sub-junior and cadet level, as well as the ranking tournaments.

The committee observed: “The discrimination prevalent in the society in terms of equal pay and rewards for men and women has persisted even within sport. But this doesn’t make it any less egregious. In fact, it is more so because the fundamental essence of all sport is fair-play, fairness in action, equality of access, and of opportunity. This is an attempt by the Committee to ensure equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunity and equal recognition for our women players.

The Constitution of India recognises the right to equality as a fundamental right under Articles 14, 15, 16 and 39 (a). The principle of “equal pay for equal work” flows from these articles and stands recognized in various statutory provisions as well.”

“The Committee of Administrators were extremely perturbed about the prevalent discrimination against women and girls’ in terms of the quantum/payment of salary, prize money and awards to women players, which are much lesser when compared to the amounts which were paid to men and boy players in the sport of table tennis,” the committee noted.