Last Wednesday, five members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team filed a federal complaint against U.S. Soccer, accusing it of wage discrimination. As a female who grew up playing soccer, watching the USWNT religiously, and who used Briana Scurry, a retired goalkeeper, for multiple biography projects, I am thrilled. For those of you who don’t know, the USWNT only came into being within the last 30 years, and despite being almost a century younger than the U.S. Men’s National Team, the USWNT holds many more titles and a higher international ranking than the men’s team.
Although these women are the top ranked women’s soccer team in the world — they have won three World Cups, including the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 — the USWNT players are still paid substantially less than the men. According to the New York Times, the women are each paid $3,600 per game with an additional $1,350 bonus if they win. The men, on the other hand, are given $5,000 per game along with a $8,166 bonus for a win. This means that even if the women win all 20 of their yearly games, each USWNT player is still paid $1,000 less than a man on the USMNT would earn if he lost all 20 of his yearly games.
Are you serious?!
Currently, the gender pay gap is 21 percent in the United States, meaning that for every dollar that a man makes, a woman will make only 79 cents. Compared to the gender pay gap in U.S. Soccer though, 79 cents looks pretty good. If both the men’s and women’s national teams were to lose all 20 of their yearly games, then the women would be paid 72 cents for every dollar that the men earned, and if both teams were to win all 20 of their yearly games, then the women would be compensated with a measly 38 cents for every dollar that the men earn. This is unacceptable. The U.S. women’s national team is a soccer powerhouse, and they have been since the Women’s World Cup began in 1991. The 1999 team inspired thousands of girls across the country to pick up the sport after a tight match that ended in a game-winning penalty kick by Brandi Chastain. In 2015, Carli Lloyd, the player of the match, scored the fastest hat trick in World Cup history— 3 goals in 16 minutes. The USWNT has time and time again proven that they are a force to be reckoned with, and their pay should reflect that.
Even if gender is completely disregarded, the pay gap between the USWNT and the USMNT is still unfounded. Statistically, the women outperform the men in tournaments and friendlies. The women’s team has never been ranked below number 2 in the world, while the men’s team peaked at number 4 in 2006. Additionally, the USWNT has now won three World Cups, while the men have won zero. The results are similar for other tournaments as well. If one looks solely at job performance, the women are out-performing the men by an outrageously large margin. So, why aren’t they being paid equally? I understand that, in the eyes of some, women’s soccer may not bring in as much revenue as the men’s team. But the popularity of the USWNT is on the upswing, and people are more likely to know who Abby Wambach is than Landon Donovan.
I attended a World Cup qualifying match for the U.S. men’s team against Guatemala last week, and I wore my Megan Rapinoe jersey proudly because I stand with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. I support the USWNT in their fight for pay equality because they have proven through hard work and dedication that they have the right to be paid as much as, if not more than, the men. The U.S. women’s team has inspired a country of girls, like me, to follow their dreams both on and off the field. They have made their mark on the hearts of Americans across the country, and they deserve to be compensated fairly for the amazing performances that they have put on at each soccer match.
Image credits: Tumblr.com, Washingtonpost.com, the18.com, Buzzfeed.com, Usatsbi.com, Usssoccer.com
Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/01/sports/soccer/uswnt-us-women-carli-lloyd-alex-morgan-hope-solo-complain.html?_r=0, http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/01/football/uswnt-lawsuit-pay-parity/index.html?eref=rss_latest, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/03/31/sports/soccer/us-women-soccer-wage.html, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_men%27s_national_soccer_team, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_women%27s_national_soccer_team