Major league clubs sponsored by ABN AMRO will still have to split top hockey budgets 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 tough demand it first expressed two and a half years ago.
Let’s get the facts right 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). The bank says that all these clubs support the demand for equal budget. Because it is logical that a team at a lower level operates with a lower budget, ABN AMRO’s condition will only apply from 2025 to clubs that play in the Dutch big leagues with both flag teams at that time. This is currently the case with four out of six clubs. Not only in SCHC and Orange-Red. SCHC men and Orange-Rood women play in the Promotion Class this season.
Two and a half years ago, ABN AMRO – sponsor of more than fifty hockey clubs – launched ‘De Catch-Up’, a multi-year plan for greater equality in hockey. Prior to that time, a club sponsored by the bank was allowed to decide for itself how to spend the financial injection. Since the most recent round of contract extensions, the bank has imposed a (first) condition. The amount provided by ABN AMRO is to be split fifty-fifty by the club between men and women.
Five of the six big league clubs mentioned have already signed contracts that include this clause or will do so this summer when the previous contract expires. Only SCHC’s commitment will continue for a longer period of time. ABN AMRO’s new contracts typically have a term of two years. This condition also applies to clubs that are not yet sponsored by them, but wish to do so in the future.
In the next round of contract renewals, ABN AMRO will put forward a second requirement. Then not only the amount that is sponsored, but the total budget of top hockey should be split fifty-fifty between men and women. ‘If the clubs do not agree, we will not renew the contract,’ says Sandor Bestevaar, Head of Partnerships, Events and Foundations at the bank. How the clubs then distribute the budget among the players is up to them. One player will definitely earn more than the other. But overall we are equalizing the difference between men and women.
In Amsterdam and Den Bosch – the two top clubs in women’s hockey that also play in the Hoofdklasse alongside the Men’s 1 – about sixty percent of the total top hockey budget goes to the men and forty percent to the women. This makes them a pioneer in the field of equal pay. These ratios are more skewed at many other clubs in the Tulipe Hoofdklasse. Internationals Maria Verschoor from Amsterdam and Josin Koning from Den Bosch recently restarted the discussion about equal pay. Figures for 2020 from ABN AMRO show that women in top hockey earn five to ten times less than men. Less than twenty percent of the sponsor’s money will also go to women.
Bestevar: ‘All the clubs we sponsor support the cause of equal pay. From our conversation with them, we have come to the conclusion that they really want to take up this challenge. But change never happens overnight. That’s why we’re implementing step-by-step adjustments to our contracts. Luckily, men’s and women’s budgets are already crawling closer together. The clubs are happy that we have started this discussion. Only by taking these steps together can we bring about a structural change.
Equality in hockey has long been an important topic for ABN AMRO. In 2020, partly at the urging of the bank, women’s teams were added to the Euro Hockey League, of which the lender is a sponsor. Women also receive the same amount of prize money in the EHL as men. abn amro weekend The preliminary tournament with which the new season of the Dutch big league traditionally begins in September was also expanded to include women in 2019. The effect of ‘D Catch-up’ and the bank is committed to equal opportunities for children in disadvantaged situations and athletes with disabilities.
Not only to point an accusing finger at big-league clubs, says Bestevaar, ABN AMRO has taken a critical look at itself in recent years. At the time of the launch of ‘D Catch-Up’, the bank was the main sponsor of seven clubs in the men’s major leagues and only one in the women’s major leagues. That number has now been corrected to a ratio of four to four. ‘Our intention is to sponsor both men and women within one club. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. Sometimes clubs already have contracts with other sponsors, which often stipulate 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 road to 2025, we will continue to aim for equal visibility anyway.’