The Issue

This summer, the US women’s national soccer team took home their fourth FIFA World Cup win, the most of any country in the world. Currently, they’re engaged in their victory tour in America. However, they have yet to be victorious in a momentous struggle – the one for equal pay. The issue of equal pay is indicative of a larger problem, not only in soccer or the United States, but worldwide in every industry. According to the Los Angeles Times, women can be found all over the world who make less than their male counterparts, particularly women of color. 

The US women’s national soccer team and women all over the world deserve equal pay for the work that they are doing. Already winning on the field, the USWNT must win in the courts now. They do the same work as the men and put in the same amount of effort – thus, they deserve to be compensated fairly and not discriminated against simply because of their gender. 

Why the Women Deserve Equal Pay

The argument is simple – for equal work, the women deserve equal pay. However, with respect to US soccer, the debate becomes a little more complicated. The USWNT and the USMNT have negotiated different pay structures with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). Slate reports that the women have a base salary of $100,000 a year, along with bonuses, while the men are paid entirely in bonuses from the games that they play in. However, the bonuses that the men are given allow the men to leave with more money than the women, even when they perform worse. 

For example, in the latest FIFA World Cup, the women each earned $110,000 for winning. If the men had won their World Cup last year, they would each have earned over $400,000.

The Lawsuit 

In March, the US women’s team filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation for violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The USWNT needs to prove discrimination by showing that they are paid differently than the men for the same work. 

Forbes reports the following evidence that the women indicated in their complaint: 

  • In 2015, the women converted an estimated net loss of about $400,000 by the men to a profit of about $17.7 million for the USSF because of USWNT and FIFA World Cup win. 
  • The USWNT played in 19 more games than the USMNT from 2015-2018, therefore spending more time practicing and playing than the men. 
  • From 2013-2016, USWNT were paid $15,000 each for trying out and making the team, whereas the men were paid $55,000 each. 
  • USWNT faces less marketing than USMNT and worse travel conditions – in 2017, USSF chartered 17 private planes for USMNT travel, but 0 for USWNT. 
  • Between 2016 and 2018, USWNT brought in $50.8 million in revenue for the USSF, but USMNT brought in $49.9 million. 

The Letter

USSF President Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter detailing the differences in pay between the USMNT and USWNT. He argued that the women’s team was actually paid more than the men’s team, taking into account the profitability of the two teams. He claimed that the women’s team was only profitable in two out of the last ten years. Both the men’s and women’s teams have disagreed with this statement. 

Additionally, the USMNT has released a statement disagreeing with Cordeiro that FIFA is the organization to blame for the disparity, given the different prize amounts for the two World Cups. The USMNT also indicated their preparation to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with USSF, which could help with the goal of equal pay. 

How to Help 

The Washington Post reports that Time’s Up and the USWNT have joined forces to combat the issue of equal pay. Time’s Up is an organization dedicated to achieving fair and safe workplace conditions for women all over the world and breaking down the systemic inequality that pervades the workplace today. They are raising awareness not just for soccer players, but for women all over the world. You can help by donating to Time’s Up here. Women everywhere – soccer players, waitresses, executives – deserve to be recognized for their work and paid as much as their male counterparts.


This OpEd was written by U4SC Student Intern, Nikhita.

[Image Attribute: rachael.c.king]
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and/or student and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of United 4 Social Change Inc., its board members, or officers.
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