(CNN)From breaking waves to bridging the gap in equal pay, world surfing has set the standard for other sports to follow.
The World Surf League (WSL) has announced it will offer equal prize money to both men and women from 2019, making it the first US-based global sports league to apply pay parity.
After announcing the decision, which will be implemented across all elite tour events next season, the WSL said it was, “proud of its commitment to gender equality, and proud to join other organizations beyond the world of sport reaching this important milestone”.
Three-time world champion Carissa Moore said she was shocked but added it is “huge for the sport of surfing and women in general.”
“The WSL has done so much for us as women over the past few years,” she told CNN Sport.
“For this to happen is a huge deal. It’s more just the statement that it makes to be recognized on that level and to be respected as elite athletes alongside the men.”
World No.1 Stephanie Gilmore said: “When I was told there was going to be equal pay for men and women, I pretty much cried.”
Men’s surfing’s 11-time world champion Kelly Slater told the WSL website: “I’m so proud that surfing is choosing to lead sports in equality and fairness.
“The female WSL athletes are equally committed to their craft as the male athletes and should be paid the same. Surfing has always been a pioneering sport, and this serves as an example of that.”
The WSL hopes eventually to implement pay parity across all qualifying events, even those it does not have full control over.
‘Iconic role models’
In a statement online, WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt said it was “simply the right thing to do.”
“This is the latest in a series of actions the League has undertaken to showcase our female athletes, from competing on the same quality waves as the men, to better locations, and increased investment and support,” she said.
“We would like to thank the many advocates who have worked for decades to help advance women’s surfing.
“We want to be at the forefront of pushing for equality in all walks of life, starting on the waves, and we feel very lucky to have women on our tour who are highly talented, iconic role models, and more than deserve this recognition as they stand alongside our extraordinary male athletes.”
Earlier this year, the WSL faced criticism after it was revealed the winner of a female junior event received exactly half the prize money won by the men’s winner.
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