Social media users cried foul today after the annual Hong Kong Beach 5s sports festival published a post to its Facebook page announcing that the winners of this year’s men’s rugby competition — no mention of the women, mind you — would be getting tickets to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Compounding the consternation, of course, was the fact that today is International Women’s Day.
“Sponsored by DHL, the winner’s [sic] of the Men’s rugby (entire squad of 8) will win tickets to the Rugby World Cup in Tokyo!” read the post, which acknowledged below that registration for the women’s rugby competition had been extended — so they remembered it existed — but still neglected to mention what, if any, prize the victorious ladies would win.
On #IWD2019, the annual #HongKong Beach 5s sports event announced that the winners of the *men's* rugby tournament – but not the women's – would get tickets to the @rugbyworldcup, courtesy of @DHLexpress. They quickly took the post down, but here it is for posterity. pic.twitter.com/bXkycVzB1S
— Laurel Chor (@laurelchor) March 8, 2019
No sooner had the post gone up than commenters began pointing out the omission.
“Well that’s a well-timed post for today,” one dryly noted.
And just as quickly, the post was taken down (though some were forward-looking enough to preserve it), and replaced a few hours lated with an “URGENT UPDATE.”
The update apologized for the “confusion” on display in the prior announcement, and noted that “naturally Women’s & Men’s Rugby Winner’s [sic] will be getting tickets to the Rugby World Cup.”
It also promised “more details to follow!”
URGENT UPDATE!!! Sorry for the confusion naturally Women's & Men's Rugby Winner's will be getting tickets to the Rugby World Cup. more details to follow! #DHLRUGBYDELIVERED #HKBEACH5S #RWC #HongKong
A Hong Kong Beach 5s representative acknowledged the flub in a response to questions from Coconuts HK, but maintained that the plan had been to give both the men’s and women’s champs World Cup tickets all along.
“There was always going to be women’s ticket[s] for the world cup as well,” the group said in a message. “Indeed we have missed that one and [it] was pointed out straight [a]way which is why we took down the post immediately to rectify the miscommunication.”
But Samantha Feausi, head of women’s rugby development at Hong Kong Rugby Union (which is not involved in the Beach 5s), said that such omissions, whether intentional or not, “occur too often in the women’s sports arena.”
“We have moved on from the days where it is acceptable for [there to be] discrimination and inequality in rewards and prizes given to male and female athletes,” she told Coconuts HK in an email, noting that she too had seen the Beach 5s post and found the omission of the women’s prize “perplexing.”
“Even subtle differences such as sizes of trophies or the use of male or female athletes on an event promotional poster can have significant effects on how things are perceived – and the impact and message it sends to young people is significant.”