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Team Finland prize money increased for World Championship performance

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Player bonus goes up 2,000 euros each

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 12
Petra Nieminen #19, Isa Rahunen #2, Venla Hovi #9 and Linda Välimäki #10 of Finland look on in the first period against Olympic Athletes from Russia during the Women’s Ice Hockey Bronze Medal game
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Naisleijonat will receive 7,000 euros each (approximately $7,861 USD), the allotted bonus for a gold medal victory for their IIHF Women’s World Championship result. Previously the team was due to receive 5,000 euros each for their silver medal finish.

The April 14 gold medal game between Finland and the United States drew both outstanding viewing numbers and a contentious result when a Finnish overtime game-winning-goal was overturned and the Americans eventually took gold in the shootout.

”We want to reward players for this brilliant performance,” said Finnish Ice Hockey Association chairman Harri Nummela. “I believe that in the hearts of many Finns, the Women’s Lions won the World Championship.”

Goaltender Noora Räty told The Ice Garden, “Yes, we appreciate the increase, as for example some players who play in the Finnish league have to pay team fees to be able to play. So [it] goes without saying all the extra we can get from playing is much appreciated and needed.”

She continued, “[I] can only imagine what our team could do if we all could be professionals like the majority of Canadian and American players are.”

Both the original bonus and its increase are markedly different from what the Naisleijonat’s male counterparts will take home if they earn similar honors this spring in Slovakia.

According to Finnish Ice Hockey Association CEO Matti Nurminen in YLE News, the disparity comes not from the national federation, but from the IIHF:

”The International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF pays generous bonuses in the men’s world championships based on the level of success. The size of the men’s bonuses depends on how we divide the IIHF premium between the players and the association. On the other hand, the women’s bonuses come exclusively from the association’s budget.”

In other words, the IIHF does not allocate prize money for the Women’s World Championships, despite the tournament’s almost 30-year history.

Since the IIHF doesn’t offer prize money for women, distribution of the men’s funds is left to national governing bodies’ discretion. Nurminen pointed to the FIHA’s historical increase of the women’s funds, from a possible 2000 euros for Worlds gold in 2017 to 2019’s 7000.

If the Finnish men win gold, they’ll take home 27,000 euros each. That’s 20,000 euros more, almost three times what the women get this year.

Nurminen holds that it’s impossible to compare these amounts in strict terms, due to the games being at different phases of popularity and development. Whether or not there’s credence to that belief, especially considering the differences between a male hockey player’s sport-based income and a woman’s, is (and rightfully should be) up for vigorous debate.

“[Our bonus] is still not close to what men would get, but we understand that it’s due to IIHF’s bonus system and them not paying bonus money for our Women’s tournament,” said Räty. “Our own federation has been nothing but supportive in the past few years, and we appreciate that a lot.”

Nurminen also mentioned the FIHA is actively seeking to change the IIHF’s policy:

”We have sent an initiative to the IIHF in writing, which we hope to bring the prize money to the Women’s World Championships.”