By Rebecca Washney It’s no secret that the US Women’s National Team is the best soccer team in the world. They’re taking home gold at the World Cup for the fourth time, and have broken multiple records along the way. It’s also no secret that they, just like most women, are underpaid.
Case in point; FIFA’s prize money for the 2018 men’s World Cup was $400 million. The prize money for the 2019 women’s World Cup was only $30 million. That means the women’s winning team receives a maximum of $200,000 (for each player) in prize money. The men? $1,114,429 each. Infuriating, right?
But FIFA isn’t the only culprit of gender-based pay discrimination. The US Soccer Federation also seems to treat the women’s side unfairly. If both teams competed in and won 20 friendlies (non-tournament games) each in a year, the women’s players would earn a between $99,000 and $4,950 per game, while the men would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game.
And before anyone asks, the question ‘is the women’s team as profitable?’ is just laughable. Yes, it is. The WNT has proven that their games have more viewers, their merch outsells the men’s, and they win more games. They also win more championships, currently holding four World Cup stars, four Olympic gold medals, and eight CONCACAF championships.
The Wall Street Journal reported, using the USSF’s financial statements, that between 2016 and 2018, the women’s games have raised approximately $50.8 million in revenue, compared with the $49.9 million for men.
The WNT has made it known, in so many words, that they’re pissed about the gap. In 2012 they requested equal pay, and the USSF responded by offering compensation only if the women won games against FIFA-ranked top ten teams. That means the USSF would not have paid them for losing games, tying games or winning against teams ranked lower than ten.
In March, twenty-eight members of the world champion United States women’s soccer team took another step towards pay equality and filed a gender discrimination lawsuit, citing their numerous wins and equal work as some of the many examples for why they deserve to get paid equally. They’re currently awaiting mediation, hoping to solve the issue soon after coming home from their second consecutive World Cup win.
The unwillingness of FIFA and federations like USSF to pay women equally reveal a problem that extends deeper than just in soccer. Women have been, historically, treated as lesser than their male counterparts. But just because that’s how the world has previously acted towards women, doesn’t mean that’s how it should continue to act towards women. That change can start now; it can start here.
At this point, any response from the USSF that isn’t a pay raise (equal to or greater than that of the men’s teams pay) could only be a decision made out of good old-fashioned sexism. There are no more excuses. To advance the sport, to advance women’s rights, it’s only acceptable to start paying these women the wages which they have proven, time and time again, that they have earned.