Outrage over 'disgraceful' photo of junior surfing champions

A photo of two junior surfers has sparked outrage on social media and reignited the long-running debate about gender equality in sport.

The fury surrounds a photo of the female and male winners of the Billabong Junior Series in Ballito, South Africa – 15-year-old South African Zoe Steyn and Indonesia’s Rio Waida respectively.

Rio Waida’s cheque of 8000 rand ($785) is double that of the junior women’s winner.

The image was posted on the Ballito Pro Facebook page and it has since been condemned by many social media users.

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The surfing photo that has sparked outrage on social media. Pic: Facebook/The Ballito Pro

Some described the prize money disparity as “a disgrace” and have called on tournament sponsors Billabong to move with the times.

“I can’t believe she got half of the prize money that he got. That’s not only unfair, it is also disgraceful and disrespectful to women,” Facebook user Kiana Lama Lama Difesa posted in response to the photo.

“I am outraged that in 2018 both Billabong and The Ballito Pro think that it is appropriate to pay the female winner exactly half the prize money of the male winner. I encourage you to let both Billabong and The Ballito Pro know that this is not acceptable,” another user fumed.

Competition sponsors Billabong and event organisers have been accused of blatant sexism. Pic: Facebook

There was a torrent of outrage on Steyn’s Instagram account as well, with her fans, friends and followers slamming Billabong in the comments section of the young surfer’s post.

Steyn herself was initially only focused on her victory, and thanking those that helped her with the impressive achievement.

“So so happy to get the double win at the Billabong Junior Series here in Ballito!” Steyn wrote on Instagram.

“Thanks to everyone who supported me and thanks @ceara_knight @kaiwoolf2001 for the chair up!”

The surfing star later responded to a number of angry comments about the pay gap with a simple “thanks”.

Meanwhile, officials from the World Surf League (WSL) insist there’s a simple explanation behind the pay difference.

Zoe Steyn carves up the surf at the Billabong Junior Series. Pic: Instagram/zosteyn

“Men get double the prize money only because there are double the competitors,” WSL Australia/Oceania Regional Manager Will Hayden-Smith told ABC.

“In Australia, the prize money at a junior event is $2500 for women and $5000 for men. In the men’s field we have 64 surfers and in the women’s field we have 24.”

The WSL told 7 Sport it had taken the criticism on board.

“The WSL has made strides in support of women’s surfing on the Championship Tour from pay parity to investment in quality venues (Fiji, Bali, Jeffreys Bay, Trestles, Surf Ranch, Maui) in recent years.

“WSL will continue to invest in and support surfing at the developmental level and aims to make similar improvements in these areas. We appreciate the feedback and dialogue on this front.”

Steyn has been contacted for comment.