USWNT is compensated by an unlikely suitor

In the realm of athletics, income is usually based on the amount of revenue one’s team brings in per year. Common sense would tell you that the earnings per player on a World Cup-winning soccer team would be greater than a team that fails to win any major championship. Unfortunately, this natural inkling would be incorrect.

With the FIFA Women’s World Cup just a few weeks away, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has sued the United States Soccer Federation for gender discrimination with concerns over the astronomical income difference between the male and female teams. Income, in this case, is considered to be earnings for making the World Cup roster, advancing into later rounds in the tournament and possibly winning the World Cup in its entirety.

But the women’s U.S. national team  is not only suing over wage discrimination in high level tournaments — the team is suing over a lack of equality for every single time it steps on the field to play a soccer game.

The women’s national team is required by the U.S. Soccer Federation to play more games per year than the men’s team. These games often result in victories, yet the team still gets paid less than the men’s team. More wins, while earning less money than a team that barely wins and brings home a hefty paycheck, just does not make much sense to me.

One can make a convincing argument against equal pay in the world of soccer by simply saying that men’s soccer brings in much more revenue than women’s soccer does, which is completely true. Men’s soccer, like most male sports, generates more revenue than women’s soccer. The last Women’s World Cup brought in ­­­­almost $73 million, while the Men’s World Cup brought in a staggering $4 billion. There is a huge, undeniable difference in revenue generated between the two teams, but the argument is not which team brings in more revenue — it is why U.S. Soccer fails to compensate its most successful teams equally, if not better, than a team that fails to even qualify for the World Cup on a consistent basis.

The women’s national team is currently ranked first in the world, has three World Cup victories under its belt and is the current FIFA World Cup Champion, while the men’s team has yet to win a World Cup final and also failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The men’s team is consistently fighting to get into a tournament the women consistently win, yet the men make the same amount per player for qualifying for the World Cup as each women’s player earns for winning the World Cup.

Specifically, the men’s team gets $76,000 per player just for qualifying, while each women’s player only gets $15,000. If the men’s team were to win, they would each walk away with close to $405,000 in earnings, while the women each get $78,000. The wage discrimination is not subtle, but U.S. Soccer still chooses to ignore it, which is what has lead to the 2019 lawsuit.

The women’s team has been extremely vocal with its concerns saying, “The discrimination affects not only their paychecks but also where they play, and how often, how they train, the medical treatment and coaching they receive, and even how much they travel to matches,” but as of recently, there has been no efforts to make change within the U.S. Soccer organization.

Although U.S. Soccer is not making efforts to change, there are organizations and companies that are willing to fight for equality right now. Luna Bar, which is a brand created by Clif Bar & Company, has pledged to donate money to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team to make up for the pay discrepancy in roster bonuses for this upcoming World Cup. So, each of the 23 women who make the roster will get paid the full $76,000 for this World Cup this summer. This donation does not entirely make up for the pay discrepancy, but it is most certainly a step in the right direction.

As for the United States Soccer Federation — it should be ashamed. Events such as the World Cup and the Olympics are times where a nation comes together. Banter and disagreements are put aside, and teams take pride in their nations. Discrimination against a team that consistently plays its heart out and maintains world dominance is appalling, especially without immediate, apologetic action. I hope, in the near future, this is no longer an issue. There are all sorts of arguments about wage discrimination, but a winning team brings more revenue into an organization, and therefore should be compensated.