For the second year in a row, the Women’s U-18 hockey World Championship was cancelled with no plan to reschedule. Due to the rapid spread of Covid-19, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) deemed it unsafe for the Women’s World Championship to proceed; however, the Men’s World Junior Championship was not cancelled and started on December 26th, 2021 as planned. This news understandably infuriated many. It would be one thing to cancel the championship for everyone, but instead Women’s hockey took the backburner once again.
Gender inequality in hockey is not a novel topic; in general, female hockey players are lacking the funding, resources, playing opportunities, and media coverage that male players have. In fact, by taking the top salaries from both leagues, it is revealed that for every dollar made by male players, female players only make $0.0005. Despite the clear discrepancies in the treatment of male and female hockey players, top organisations such as the IIHF still attempt to deny these differences. In response to the backlash received from cancelling the Women’s U-18 World Championship, IIHF president Luc Tardif defended the decision by stating, “This is not a gender issue, this is a Covid-19 issue”. If this were the case, why was it deemed safe for the men’s team to play?
Telling women they can’t play while allowing the men’s tournament to proceed demonstrates the level of gender inequality that still exists in the world of hockey. With this decision, the IIHF made it clear that they prioritize the Men’s team. They took the opportunity to play away from many female athletes who have worked just as hard as their male counterparts. From a young age these women poured their time, dedication, and money into hockey, but hockey is unwilling to do the same in return.