Major league clubs sponsored by ABN AMRO will still have to divide the budget of top hockey fifty-fifty between men and women from 2025. The bank will not enter into a new agreement as a partner of top hockey with clubs that do not do so. With this, ABN AMRO continues to adhere to the hard demand that it first expressed two and a half years ago.
Let’s get the facts straight first. ABN AMRO sponsors six clubs and eight teams in the Men’s and Women’s Tulp Hoofdklasse: Amsterdam (m/f), Rotterdam (m/f), Bloemendaal (m), Oranje-Rood (m), SCHC (f) and Little Switzerland ( v). All these clubs support the demand for equal budgets, the bank says. Because it is logical that a team at a lower level works with a lower budget, ABN AMRO’s condition will only apply from 2025 to the clubs that play in the Dutch big league with both flag teams at that time. This is currently the case at four of the six clubs. Not only at SCHC and Orange-Red. The men of SCHC and the women of Oranje-Rood play in the Promotion Class this season.
Two and a half years ago, ABN AMRO – sponsor of more than fifty hockey clubs – launched the multi-year plan ‘De Catch-up’ for more equality in hockey. Before that time, a club sponsored by the bank was allowed to decide for itself how the financial injection was spent. Since the most recent round of contract extensions, the bank has imposed a (first) condition. The amount that ABN AMRO makes available must be divided fifty-fifty between the men and women by the club.
Five of the six big league clubs mentioned have already signed the contract in which this condition is included or will do so next summer when the previous contract expires. Only SCHC’s commitment will continue for longer. ABN AMRO’s new contracts usually have a term of two years. The condition also applies to clubs that are not yet sponsored by them, but would like to do so in the future.
In the next round of contract renewals, ABN AMRO will put the second requirement on the table. Then not only the amount that is sponsored, but the total budget of top hockey must be divided fifty-fifty between the men and women. ‘If clubs do not agree, we will not renew the contract,’ says Sander Bestevaar, Head of Partnerships, Events & Foundations at the bank. How the clubs then divide the budgets among the players remains up to them. One player will of course earn more than the other. But overall we are equalizing the difference between men and women.’
At Amsterdam and Den Bosch – two top clubs in women’s hockey that also play in the Hoofdklasse with Men’s 1 – approximately sixty percent of the total top hockey budget goes to the men and forty percent to the women. This makes them pioneers in the field of fairly equal salaries. These proportions are more skewed at many other clubs in the Tulip Hoofdklasse. Internationals Maria Verschoor from Amsterdam and Josine Koning from Den Bosch recently rekindled the discussion about equal salaries. Figures from ABN AMRO from 2020 would show that women in top hockey earn five to ten times less than men. Less than twenty percent of the sponsor money would also go to the women.
Bestevaar: ‘All the clubs we sponsor support the intention of equal salaries. From the conversations we have with them, we conclude that they really want to take on the challenge. But change never happens overnight. That is why we are implementing the adjustments to our contracts step by step. Fortunately, the budgets of men and women are already creeping closer together. Clubs are happy that we have started this discussion. Only by taking these steps together can we make structural changes.
Equality in hockey has long been an important theme for ABN AMRO. In 2020, partly at the insistence of the bank, women’s teams were added to the Euro Hockey League, of which the lender is the sponsor. Women also receive the same prize money as men in the EHL. The ABN AMRO weekend , the preparatory tournament with which the new season for the Dutch big league traditionally starts in September, was also expanded to include the women in 2019. In addition, the number of women in important positions (board members, trainers, officials) must grow under the influence of ‘De Catch-up’ and the bank is committed to equal opportunities for children in disadvantaged situations and disabled athletes.
In order not only to point an accusing finger at big league clubs, ABN AMRO has also taken a critical look at itself in recent years, says Bestevaar. At the launch of ‘De Catch-up’, the bank was the main sponsor of seven clubs in the men’s big league and only one in the women’s big league. That number has now been rectified with the ratio of four to four. ‘Our intention is to sponsor both men and women within one club. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes clubs already have contracts with other sponsors, who often enforce that no one else can be on the chest of the shirt. For example, we stand on the back of the women of Amsterdam. On the way to 2025, we will in any case continue to aim for equal visibility.’