U.S. Women’s World Cup Victory sets off Another Equal Pay Discussion

American flag flying in breeze.

American flag flying in breeze.

After a long season full of wins, as well as losses, the U.S. women’s soccer team won its fourth Women’s World Cup. Beating the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday evening, U.S. walked away with the World Cup, much to the excitement of fans across the world, however, to the chagrin of some fans, their win has sparked discussion of the “gender pay gap.”

Equal Pay

Almost as soon as the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won the World Cup on Sunday, fans in the stadium started chanting. “Equal pay! Equal pay!” the crowd screamed as FIFA President Gianni Infantino got on stage to congratulate the U.S. on their win in France’s Stade de Lyon.

The U.S. women’s team has managed to win four World Cups, not only is that more than any other women’s soccer team in the world, but it’s also four more than the amount of time that the U.S. men’s team has won. Still, the women’s team is only getting paid around $30 million for winning the World Cup- compared to the $400 million handed out to the men’s World Cup last year, that’s nothing.

At first glance, the pay gap is glaringly obvious; however, when you take a closer look at things, the female soccer team is being paid more. It all boils down to percents, in 2015 the U.S. women’s team won the World Cup and got about $73 million- the players received about 13 percent. In 2010 the men’s World Cup generated about $4 billion, and players received 9 percent.

Forbes explains the wage gap as a gap in revenue, not just a gap in their salary: “The men’s World Cup in Russia generated over $6 billion in revenue, with the participating teams sharing $400 million, less than 7% of revenue. Meanwhile, the Women’s World Cup is expected to earn $131 million for the full four-year cycle 2019-22 and dole out $30 million to the participating teams.” [1]

The differences in revenue is too large to wrap one’s head around, the women would have to start earning almost four times as much as they do now, if the women were paid as much as men, they would be getting paid about 400 percent of their revenue- compared to the 7 percent the men get.

Different Pay

The crux of the matter is that the clubs the female team plays with outside of the tournament plays don’t make as much money off of them as they do off of the males that they do pay, so the clubs can’t afford to pay the women. Which is why the women’s team are given a set salary from the US Soccer federation. The salary pays them whether or not they play, unlike the men’s salary, which is paid for by professional clubs. [2]

The New York Times succinctly notes that the difference between pay isn’t actually as wide as many think. “According to figures provided by U.S. Soccer, since 2008 it has paid 12 players at least $1 million. Six of those players were men, and six were women. And the women hold their own near the top of the pay scale; the best-paid woman made about $1.2 million from 2008 to 2015, while the top man made $1.4 million in the same period. Some women in the top 10 even made more than their male counterparts over those years.” [3]

The women’s soccer team could ask for more ad revenue or travel accommodations equal to the men’s team; they could even ask for equal bonuses and still be speaking reasonably. But for them to ask for equal pay, they’re asking for an entirely different pay structure- one that might not be as forgiving as their current regular paycheck they receive.


Notes:

  1. ^Ozanian, Mike. “Revenue Disparity Explains Pay Disparity Between Soccer World Cup’s Men And Women.” Forbes, 7 Mar. 2019, www.forbes.com/sites/mikeozanian/2019/03/07/world-cup-soccer-pay-disparity-between-men-and-women-is-justified/#410385ed6da4. (go back↩)
  2. ^Lee, Sarah and Sarah Lee. “The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Really Doesn’t Want ‘Equal’ Pay (Although I’m Not Sure Their Fans Know That).” RedState, 8 July 2019, www.redstate.com/slee/2019/07/08/u.s.-womens-national-soccer-team-really-doesnt-want-equal-pay-although-im-not-fans-know. (go back↩)
  3. ^Pay Disparity in U.S. Soccer? It’s Complicated.” N. Y. Times, 8 July 2019, www.nytimes.com/2016/04/22/sports/soccer/usmnt-uswnt-soccer-equal-pay.html. (go back↩)

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