Equal Pay for Superior Play

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Equal Pay for Superior Play

On July 9, the USWNT scored their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup and revisited the topic of unequal pay
(Photo credits to hami.photos).

On July 9, the USWNT scored their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup and revisited the topic of unequal pay (Photo credits to hami.photos).


On July 9, the USWNT scored their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup and revisited the topic of unequal pay (Photo credits to hami.photos).



On July 9, the USWNT scored their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup and revisited the topic of unequal pay (Photo credits to hami.photos).

This summer at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) won for the fourth time since the start of the Women’s World Cup in 1991. On the ninth of July 2019, the American team reigned in another world cup, making the United States the country with the most FIFA Women’s World Cup wins. Their 2-0 win against the Netherlands left them the champions on the field; however, their pay left much to be desired.

“I think the [USWNT] did really well with scoring; they won every game. I just don’t like how Megan [Rapinoe] didn’t stand up during the national anthem,” said junior Hazel Curran. 

Co-captain of the team, Megan Rapinoe, who is controversial after kneeling during the national anthem, has resurfaced the issue of unequal pay. She said, “It’s [time] to stop having the conversation about equal pay, are we worth it, the investment piece… It’s time to kind of sit down with everyone and really get to work.”

All 28 players have filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, citing  “institutionalized gender discrimination” as the cause, including “inequality in pay, practice time, practice locations, medical treatment, coaching and travel.” It’s also worth mentioning that the lawsuit was filed on International Women’s Day, considering the feminist force backing the decision.

Hampton Dellinger, a lawyer and writer against the pay gap, told the Washington Post, “In my opinion, US Soccer has been using sexism at the FIFA level to justify at least some of its own gender discrimination. That’s not right. Particularly for a non-profit and one where the women have been dramatically outperforming the men for a generation.”

As opposed to the USWNT, the U.S. Men’s National Team has never won a FIFA World Cup. The Women’s National Team has a base salary of $100,000 with the opportunity to win bonuses, while the Men’s National Team receives larger bonuses per game plus $5,000 regardless if they lose with no base salary.

“In general, people believe guys work harder than women, so they think they should be paid more. But, that’s not actually true,” said Curran. 

In terms of winning the FIFA World Cup, the prize is $30 millions total for the team. For the men, if they were to win, they would earn $400 million according to FIFA’s 2018 financial report. For reference, the Women’s National Team made 10.5% of what the World Cup winners made. Each member of the Women’s National Team won $250,000 as a bonus from the U.S Soccer Federation. In contrast, the men’s team members each receive $3,000 more even if they lose a World Cup match.

“I’ve heard some things that make [the pay gap] seem drastic and not so drastic. But, basically, it’s kind of large and I do believe women and men should be paid in equal…especially since [the women] actually win,” said junior Ariana Alexiou.

Despite the efforts of FIFA president Gianni Infantino to raise the prize pool to $60 million for the 2023 Women’s World Cup to approach the earning of the Men’s World Cup, the Men’s 2022 World Cup is also planning to increase to $440 million. Ultimately, falling short in the aid of the pay gap.

When discussing the pay gap, co-captain of the USWNT Alex Morgan said, “This isn’t just about us; it’s about women in all industries. Women fight for equality every single day. Our hope is that we not only set up ourselves, [but that] we set up the next generation as well.”

Reaching equality is unfortunately far from simple. In order to fully understand the equal pay problem, it’s important to account for the difference in net revenue between both teams. The women’s team generated $8 million in 2016 and $1 million in 2017. Meanwhile, the men’s team brought in $900,000 in 2016 and $2.7 million in 2017. In total, from year 2016 to 2018, the USWNT produced $50.8 million in revenue. On the other hand, the USMNT generated $49.9 million, not quite bring in as much as the women. 

An important part of that revenue is included in the USWNT’s  jersey. Through the fight for equal pay, the USWNT jersey became a symbol of equality. According to Nike executive Mark Parker, the USWNT jersey “is the number one soccer jersey, men’s or women’s, ever sold on Nike.com in one season.”

Regardless of revenue, The Washington Post calculated the earnings of a player on the USWNT for 20 games, it ended with the player “earn[ing] $28,333 less, or about 89 percent of the compensation of a similarly situated men’s team player.” Even if both teams lost every game, the earnings would remain the same.

Further controversy arose when Carlos Codeiro wrote a letter and fact sheet in order to refute the idea that the men get paid more than the women. Although, this method of calculating could potentially be confusing; he evaluated guaranteed pay instead of actual pay. The USWNT replied, going as far to call it “utterly false.”

“I think if people just sit down and talk about their differences they could come to a conclusion. Basically, you shouldn’t be paid differently for doing the same job,”  said Alexiou. 

The 2019 women’s FIFA World Cup was watched by 14.3 million U.S. citizens versus the 11.8 million viewers for the 2018 Men’s World Cup, leaving a 22% U.S viewership increase. Fox Sports ranked it as “the most-watched soccer match on English-language television in the U.S. since the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ final.”

At the end of the day, unequal pay between genders is a problem that affects women in America with an overall reported 18.9 pay gap. Fighting for equal pay for the USWNT is one step in the right direction, which can serve as an example of success if the problem is solved.

USWNT player Alex Morgan summed it up nicely when she said, “We ultimately decided to file this motion for all the little girls around the world who deserve the same respect as well as the boys. They deserve a voice, and if we as professional athletes don’t leverage the voices we have, we are letting them down. We will not let them down.”

A popular saying surrounding the issue of unequal pay with the Women’s National team is “equal pay for superior play” (Photo courtesy of Madeline Hunts).

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