Sponsorship: Female Athletes Punished for Pregnancy

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

According to Olympic 10,000 metres gold medal winner, Jo Pavey, female athletes, who become pregnant, are having their endorsement money frozen by their sponsors.

In her case, she has revealed that NIKE “immediately paused” her sponsorship deal when she became pregnant.

In an interview with ‘Sky News’ Pavey, who is no longer sponsored by NIKE, commented as follows:

“They are promoting women saying ‘come on, dream your dreams, you can achieve things’. But then, when they are under circumstances like becoming a mom, then they are signifying that could end their goals and that is definitely the wrong message.”

NIKE told ‘Sky News’ that they are proud to sponsor thousands of female athletes, but that:

“As is common practice, our agreements do include contractual performance obligations.”

NIKE also said that they have now revised their policy across all sports.

As is well known, the Olympic Charter prohibits all forms of discrimination and other major sponsors of female athletes, that freeze their endorsement payments when they become pregnant, should take note of this and end this pernicious practice forthwith by making pregnancy a specific exception to such performance obligations contained in their sponsorship agreements!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’