The USWMNT’s Fight for the World Cup and Equal Pay

On July 7th, the United States Women’s National Team won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which took place this summer in Lyon, France. This was the fourth win for the women’s team, who also won the World in 1991, 1999 and 2015. This showcase of drive and talent was a cause for celebration, both on and off the field. 

However, the world was not focused only on the U.S. team’s skill. As the game ended, fans began chanting, “Equal pay! Equal pay!” in support of the lawsuit that members of the team filed against the United States Soccer Federation in March. It claimed that in violation of the Civil Rights Act, women are not paid as much as men to play professional soccer for the United States. This might come as a shock because the U.S. Men’s National Team has never won a World Cup and has often not qualified to play at all. Meanwhile, the women’s team has always qualified and has never finished below third place.  

The Breakdown of Pay

The lawsuit stated that if both the women’s and men’s teams played and won 20 exhibition games, the women would receive a maximum of $99,000 ($4,950 per game) and the men would receive $263,320 ($13,166 per game). Although the women’s team is guaranteed pay whether or not they play, unlike the men’s team, the women are still paid less. During the 2018 men’s World Cup, the winning French team received $38 million to divide among the players and staff. This year, the U.S. women’s team divided $4 million after their win.  

Misconceptions of Revenue and Interest in Men’s Soccer

Some people have dismissed the pay gap, maintaining that the men’s team is more popular and generates more revenue and interest. This is inaccurate; between 2016-2018, the women’s team has generated $50.8 million in revenue to the men’s $49.9 million. 14.3 million people watched the Women’s World Cup Final, which is 22% higher than the number of people who watched the men’s final. Mark Parker, CEO of Nike, recently announced that the U.S. women’s team home jersey is now the company’s highest-selling jersey ever. These successes are impressive considering that the women’s national team was created in 1985, 100 years after the men’s team. 

Why They Fight

World Cup
(Richard Heathcote, Getty Images)

Although the women’s team is fighting for equal pay, it could be argued that they should be paid more than the men, since they have been more successful and lucrative. In their fight to close the pay gap, the team has not only advocated for themselves, but generally for women in sports and other fields. One of the team’s captains, Carli Lloyd, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times, “The fact that women are being mistreated financially is, sadly, not a breaking news story. It goes on in every field. We can’t right all the world’s wrongs, but we’re totally determined to right the unfairness in our field, not just for ourselves but for the young players coming up behind us and for our soccer sisters around the world.”    

Annick Tabb

Culture Writer

Annick is a 20-year-old who has lived in New York her whole life. She is an English Rhetoric/Global Culture and German double-major and would ideally like to write a strongly opinionated newspaper column as a career. Her passions include UK hip-hop, reading and döner kebabs. She aspires to learn how to properly DJ.

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