Ion Tiriac On Equal Prize Money: It’s Not OK When The Men Bring In 4 Times More Than The Women
by Tom Gainey | May 5th, 2016, 9:53 am

During a Q&A with Spanish media outlet El Mundo, Madrid tournament director Ion Tiriac dipped his toes in the dangerous equal prize money debate waters, and it didn’t go well for the Romanian.

“I say respectfully that I really like women, especially when they have long legs and are soft and elegant. They are also smart on the tennis court,” Tiriac said via Google translation. “I have no problem in giving equal prizes, but I bring the same economic results than men. When the audience of male parties is four times greater than that of the female, there is a problem with equating awards.”

The original question and answer in Spanish:

P. Torneo combinado. Hombres y mujeres. Hace poco se reabrió de nuevo el debate sobre si las mujeres deben cobrar lo mismo que los hombres en el tenis.

R. Tiriac.- Le diré, respetuosamente, que a mí me gustan mucho las mujeres, especialmente cuando tienen las piernas largas y son suaves y elegantes. También son elegantes en la cancha de tenis. Yo no tengo problema en darles premios iguales, pero que me traigan los mismos resultados económicos que los hombres. Cuando la audiencia de los partidos masculinos es cuatro veces mayor que la de los femeninos, hay un problema con equiparar los premios.

Madrid is of course a combined event this week offering 912,900 euros to both winners. And today three of the five matches on the center court are men’s. The schedule was the same Wednesday on a day when a men’s match – Monfils/Cuevas – actually had to be moved to an outer court abruptly bumping a women’s match!

Maybe the top women felt were aware of Tiriac’s stance that they are second fiddle at the event. Just one Top 20 player made the quarterfinals and she happened to be a Romanian, Simona Halep.

So what, if anything, will come of this? Will Tiriac suffer a similar fate to now-disgraced Ray Moore? Will there be future sanctions or fines? Will the WTA respond?

Right now, it’s not a big story, but it certainly could get bigger if and when the Madrid press – especially the English speaking journalists – ask for a clarification.

On a separate note, Tiriac also added that he still likes the idea of blue clay.

“Even today, in my head, I’m sure that blue is much better for the player, for the public and for television,” Tiriac said via translation. “Mr. Nadal lost against Verdasco, Djokovic lost … They said no to the blue.”

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38 Comments for Ion Tiriac On Equal Prize Money: It’s Not OK When The Men Bring In 4 Times More Than The Women

Van Persie Says:

“Maybe the top women felt were aware of Tiriac’s stance that they are second fiddle at the event. Just one Top 20 player made the quarterfinals and she happened to be a Romanian, Simona Halep.”…as far as I know (please correct me if I am wrong) Tiriac made this statement only yesterday, no?
Should I assume, that every seeded lost on purpose until yesterday, by knowing in advance what Tiriac will say?

Tom Gainey Says:

@Van Persie, the interview was published Monday.

Irrespective, maybe the women have had long knowledge of Tiriac’s position.

Van Persie Says:

Ok Tom, thank you for the info. I asked, because I did read about this only today.

lakie Says:

It is not true that men bring in more than the women. It is just a few men who are responsible for the inflow. So you cannot pay women less just because there are a few big draws on the men’s side. If players are going to be paid based on their drawing power, that is ok but to claim higher pay for all men is wrong. This is clear gender bias and like the wolf in the sheep wolf story, all kinds of reasons are put forward to pay women less. Some say men play best of 5 but women play best of 3 but this is only in the slams. So if somebody wins in straight sets should he be paid less? Should we count number of points played, number of minutes etc. Or should we have a system of measuring the drawing power? There is no excuse for arguing all women should be paid less except gender bias. Either they should be paid based on number of points and minutes played or on drawing power, not on gender.

Dennis Says:

“Didn’t go well”? His response was perfect actually. Again, as with Moore, yours and the rest of the media’s interpretation is just reflective of your political bias and PC attitude. Any dissent from the PC line that equal prize money is never to be questioned is deemed out of bounds. Like all PC leftists who cry about diversity, what you want is ideological uniformity imposed by force, and want to destroy lives and careers in order to impose your personal political attitude. Unlike Moore, however, Tiriac has F-you money and more power, so he will be just fine despite media hounds like you.

skeezer Says:

re: 5 sets vs 3….The point is a player has to be prepared physically and mentally to play 5 set format during a tournament. If they happen to go straight sets through everyone, more power to em.
In fairness, if the women played equal set tournaments, equal draw sizes, drew an equal fan base, they for sure should get equal prize money. Also, let me ask you this, if the women play 5 setters, drew mo money, had a bigger fan base, should they get mo money than men? Gender bias….has no prejudice.

MMT Says:

I agree that men’s tennis is the bigger draw, but then the men should insist on separate events – there’s no reason they have to be joint they are unhappy with the split the prize money. Although I have enormous respect for Ion Tiriac and what he’s done in/for tennis, this particular argument is intellectually contradictory.

lakie Says:

Women are ready to play 5 set matches.All players deserve to be treated the same and if they are going to pay based on number of sets or who brings in more, it is ok. But paying based on gender is WRONG. It is the ugly head of gender bias speaking. It has driven poster Dennis to be foul mouthed so we know how reasonable are the men who are demanding women be paid less. All tennis players irrespective of gender have a right to be paid on the same basis, not based on gender.If they are going to be paid based on how many points or games or sets, Federer and other aggressive players will be paid less. If they are paid based on their money generating power, Federer and Nadal will be paid more than Berdych or even Djokovic or Murray. Serena may get more than Berdych. There is absolutely no justification for paying based on gender. Either everybody gets paid the same or a transparent system is evolved for determining payment for each player based on certain parameters like points or games or sets or time or revenue generation, certainly not gender.

lakie Says:

Also ATP tour is not paying the women, it is the WTA tour. It compensates ATP for any shortfall. Also which are the lives and careers destroyed by paying women the same as men? I am sure no one comes to watch most of the lower level ATP players so what is their grouse? Just because they are men, why should they be paid more?
There was a time in the late 90s when women’s tennis was more watchable as the men’s tennis had become quick points with no entertainment value.

MMT Says:

Iakie: the logical conclusion of your contention is that they should all play in one tournament – then the prize money will be based exclusively on draw + performance.

MMT Says:

Technically, neither Moore nor Tiriac questioned equal pay – they each contended that the men are the bigger draw which is unfair GIVEN equal pay. The question keeps getting twisted into whether there is equal pay, but there is another option: the women (and specifically the WTA) and do their part and become a bigger draw.

Van Persie Says:

Tiriac will be fine. He will not end like Moore. He is the 2 director who complains about the fact, that WTA draw does not bring him the same profit as the ATP one…and if Tiriac highlighted this now, there will be also others.
I guess, there will be some changes in the future regarding “pay”.

I am not Tiriac’s biggest fan, but this guy knows business.

Jac Says:

I wonder if he has big enough balls to cut WTA prize money by half. It’d still almost keep this tournament as 5th biggest prize pool, so WTA can’t complain. It’s simple, men bring more people, they should make more.
Difference in prize money betweek ATP only and WTA only is best proof :)

Wog Boy Says:

Tiriac is not Moore nor he can and up like Moore. He is self made billionaire, very capable one, always liked him, since the time he was Boris and Boba manager. Besides, I thought he was the owner of the tournament and not just director, either way he couldn’t care less what the other might think or say about him, he is cool dude and more importantly, spot on with his comment.

elina Says:

Strange we didn’t see this argument in the early 2000’s when WTA was the bigger draw.

Wog Boy Says:

Wait until Rafa wins his #15, you will see what is real GOAT debate, Nole fans are puppies compare to Roger and Rafa fans when it comes to GOAT debate.. but we are getting there..;)

Wog Boy Says:

^^wrong thread

elina Says:

WB the margins between these three are miniscule.

I never thought I’d see the day of three players who I believe are better than Sampras after watching him play lights out for so long and dominating tennis like no other before him.

skeezer Says:

“Strange we didn’t see this argument in the early 2000′s”.
You weren’t here.

Wog Boy Says:

Tom, if you did your homework, as you didn’t, you wouldn’t ask if Tiriac might meet Moore’s fate and this is why:

“Ion Ţiriac, former Romanian ATP player and now billionaire businessman, is the current owner of the tournament. Țiriac stated that he has an annual net profit of over €35 million and that his tournament brings to Madrid revenues exceeding €200 million.”

Unless you expect him to sack himself, which is very unlikely, no?

BBB Says:

He isn’t doing himself any favors by purportedly defending himself in saying he likes women who are soft and elegant with long legs. “I like women that I would ****” is not really helpful in advancing the discussion about how men and women are compensated as professionals (at least, as professionals who aren’t paid by the hour).

BBB Says:

Separately, it seems to me that dismissing pushback on this argument as little more than caving to conformist PC ideology is … advocating a conformist ideology.

I suppose we can never have a reasonable debate about anything because we’ll just dismiss those who disagree with us as brainwashed drones?

And lastly, what amuses me most is the increasing appropriation of Marxist verbiage by those on the right.

Wog Boy Says:


I get your point and I tend to agree, but that’s Ion Tiriac, he doesn’t change, but the second part is more important and I don’t think anybody is more qualified to talk about the money and hiw to generate more money, you can’t fault him for this:

“I have no problem in giving equal prizes, but I bring the same economic results than men. When the audience of male parties is four times greater than that of the female, there is a problem with equating awards.”

Funny thing that he said exactly the same as Moore, the first part you can consider as sexist, but I doubt very much that sky will fall on him the way it happened with poor Moore…money and power talks in corporate world we live in!

chrisford1 Says:

Lakie – Women are ready to play 5 set matches.All players deserve to be treated the same and if they are going to pay based on number of sets or who brings in more, it is ok. But paying based on gender is WRONG.
No, as you mention later, the WTA and ATP are entirely separate Tours. So it is not paying based on gender, but on the revenue and media contracts made. This is why the WNBA makes much, much less than the NBA stars. They have a much, much more inferior product and a much smaller fan base. It also shows the “If only the women would play 5 sets then no one would object” is a giant red herring. The shriek brigades of the WNBA already play 60 minutes just like the men. And fail on quality and fan following and media ratings.
It’s not “equal work”

And a female tort litigation lawyer who brings in 4 times the revenue of 3 male lawyers of the same qualifications and background that work “equal hours” does not get paid the same as the men chanting “equal work means equal pay.” She gets paid a lot more and is on track to be named a partner before any of the men who “work just as hard!”

RF Says:

Men like watching ESPN; women like watching ‘Orange is the new black’. More men watch women sports than women themselves. While asking for equal pay for women, can the feminists please chide other women for not paying attention to sports on TV ?

lakie Says:

skeezer, my point is why should all men get equal remuneration? Some men are big revenue generators but there is little difference in revenue generation between the lower ranked men and women. Tennis is a spectator sport i.e meant for entertainment of the spectators. It is not construction or plumbing work that you have to measure in hours or work completed. Remuneration could be related to revenue and that revenue generation does not depend on gender or number of sets played. If however, one is determined to treat tennis as manual labor and measure performance by number of sets one is prepared to play, then women should be allowed to play 5 setters.

Margot Says:

lackie @11.54
Spot on.

Margot Says:

Sorry lakie! Anyway, your post is still “right on.” :)

lakie Says:

No MMT that is not the logical conclusion. If you carry your argument further then to be fair everybody must play everybody else so in a 128 player tournament, there will be more than 8000 matches and it will last forever.

But this distracts from the main argument which is that payment should not be gender based.

Van Persie Says:


Your comment from 11:54 was not quite correct.
We had Djokovic and Murray at the AO Final and Eurosport achieved audience record. See below:

lakie Says:

chrisford1, I think till a good measure of individual revenue generation is in place, equal pay is fair. The lower ranked men have nothing to complain about. Not many would pay much to watch the unknown lower ranked players. Which is why fan favorites like Fed are paid huge incentives to attend lesser tournaments.
The issue of equal payment comes up only in dual gender tournaments and these tournaments probably generate more revenue and certainly cost less for each tour than if they were held separately for men and women. I am relying on intuition for revenue but if someone has stats?
ATP tour does not subsidize WTA. Any shortfall is paid by WTA to ATP. ITF is common to both men and women so Grand slams are not ATP or WTA. Tiriac maybe making less money from the women’s events but that doesn’t mean ATP is subsidizing WTA. Would the event pay the men more if WTA detached itself from the event? Tiriac is probably thinking of paying the women less, not paying the men more.

lakie Says:

Van persie, how does record attendance at one match prove me wrong? Attendance depends on several factors apart from popularity of the players like importance of the match ( a 250 event 1st round or a grand slam final?), time and day when taking place, how it has been marketed, whether there are other more popular events taking place at that time, whether there is history being made…..To rule out all these other factors we need to have attendance stats for all their matches as compared to attendance stats for all other player matches to draw the conclusion that they are the most revenue generating players. I would say Federer is more revenue generating as perceived by tournament directors if we go by the appearance money he gets.

Van Persie Says:

I would say Federer was more revenue in the past. Novak becomes more and more appreciated as times passes and he achieves new records.
Tiriac preferred to have his seat near Nole at the Real Madrid match, and not besides Nadal (The king of clay). This is only one small detail that proves Tiriac is a “shark”…he is there where he smells “money”.
Barcelona offerred Nole a huge amount of money this year, in order to have the Nr. 1 at their tournament…but Nole said no.

George Says:

The main question is whether prize money should be based exclusively on economy or not. Should other factors and broader social context be taken into account. Equal pay is a huge symbolic gesture towards a 50% section of population that historically were not in equal position.

Van Persie Says:

^^ agree George…it is a complicated matter.

chrisford1 Says:

Van Persie = I think Djokovic would love to be there. It’s about scheduling. MC through Wimbledon is just too tight together to add Barcelona if you likely go deep in all the other clay events.
Rafa did it for years but seemed to be burnt up toast after Wimbledon.

MMT Says:

lakie: That is an extension of your argument, not mine.

My suggestion is that the men should cease joint events immediately, then they can get exactly what the “deserve” based entirely on their appeal to fans and leave the “dead weight” of the women behind.

The reality is that the stars on either side of the aisle are the draw, and if the men abscond the most popular women (along with the rest of the women), they will find that 100% of less than 50% doesn’t make sense economically, which is why they do joint events in the first place.

However, if they are prepared take the long view, and in the short term either have their cake OR eat it, the tournaments and the women will eventually calculate that they gain more from joint events than the men do, and their current bargaining position would be compromised.

As it stands now everyone knows that 50% of a bigger pie is worth more to the men that 100% of a smaller one, so their complaints fall on deaf ears.

Ulysses Says:

It’s difficult to separate the pay grades when it’s a combined event, since, for example, at the Toronto Masters which I watch every year, Serena and Bencic drew in more people than the men’s match before theirs (it was a beautiful match btw). The effects of stardom equalizes things a little, and people are right to suggest that a match between say, Feliciano Lopez and Roberto Batista-Agut is unlikely to bring in a centre-court filling crowd (those matches are awesome when on outside courts because the true fans seek them out), unless fans are simply eagerly awaiting the next match, which might be a star male or female contest.

It’s easier to contend for unequal pay in single-gender tournaments. I mean, in that case, the laws of mathematics (budget) basically renders any protest futile, since unless you’re Larry Ellison, you’re not going to donate to a money-losing proposition. What the women should really be doing is trying to mix more events. If any of you have been to wimbledon, you’d know that it wouldn’t be the same without the women. I certainly think in those events, the Venuses and the Billy Jean Kings have a solid argument for equal pay.

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