Soccer and Sexism

On July 7th, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team won the world cup with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands. The stands not only cheered for their victory but for equal pay, a battle the U.S. Women’s team has been fighting over the last few years.

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The players on the Women’s team started their legal fight for equal pay in 2016 when they filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. And the fight continued with a federal lawsuit filed this past March.[1]

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The U.S. Soccer organization released a fact sheet in July which gave detailed information about how they pay their female and male soccer players. The players on the women’s soccer team are paid a guaranteed salary of $100,000-$172,500 depending on whether they play in the National Women’s Soccer League (besides just being a Women’s National Team contracted player). The players on the men’s team are paid with bonuses and on a game-to-game basis, but information was not given on how much money these players receive per game. Another source of money for both teams is FIFA prize money, which paid the men’s team “$41 million from 2010 through 2018” while the women’s team was paid “$39.7 million.” While these amounts do not seem vastly different, what the teams did during this time was. The best the men’s team has done in the world cup is a third-place finish (which happened in 1930); meanwhile, the women’s team has won the world cup four times.[2][3] The women’s team has also earned “second-place once and third-place… three times.” In addition, the first women’s world cup wasn’t until 1991, 61 years after the first men’s world cup, so their impressive record was achieved in a much shorter time period.[4] In other words, “To be paid [close to] what men are paid, the women’s team had to be the best in the world.” [5]

The letter from the U.S. Soccer Organization also shared the shocking difference in how much money is awarded to the winning team from FIFA. Last year’s victors of the FIFA Men’s World Cup received $38 million, while this year’s winners of the FIFA Women’s World Cup are only being awarded $4 million. The organization doesn’t only place the blame on FIFA, but on us (as viewers and consumers of soccer) as well. It shares that not only is the U.S. women’s team less profitable than the men’s team but that from 2009 to 2019 they actually lost the organization $27.5 million dollars, as the expense of the games was significantly more than the revenue generated. However, The Wall Street Journal and other news reports have found that “the USWNT out-earned men in total game revenue in the years after the 2015 World Cup.”[6] It could be possible that prior to 2015 the women were losing the organization money, but that afterward, the men’s team started losing them money. The revenue from the women’s team seems to be picking up significantly, and the U.S. Soccer Organization appears to be obscuring that fact to the public by only reporting the overall revenue from 2009 to 2019.[7]

Some critique feminism by saying that equality between women and men inherently suggests that men and women have to be the same. However, women and men can be treated with equity and still be different. In this case, the men’s and women’s teams do not necessarily have to be paid the same amount in order for equality to be achieved. For it to be equal, the women’s team should actually be making millions more.

-by CM

 

Image Sources

Women’s Team Celebrating Victory – https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2019/07/crowd-stadium-chants-equal-pay-womens-team-wins-world-cup.html

Fans Cheering for Equal Pay – https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/womens-world-cup-rapinoe-morgan-gender-equality/

 

Sources

[1] Shirley Leung. 8 July 2019. Boston Globe. “Get on the right side of history, US Soccer: Equal pay for the women’s team — now.”

[2] Russel Lewis. 7 July 2019. National Public Radio. “U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Wins World Cup Title For A 4th Time.” https://www.npr.org/2019/07/07/739305526/four-peat-u-s-womens-soccer-team-wins-world-cup-title

[3] FIFA USA Profile. https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/teams/team=43921/topstories.html

[4] Wikipedia. “United States at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_at_the_FIFA_Women%27s_World_Cup

[5] Molly Olmstead. 30 July 2019. Slate. “U.S. Men’s National Team Blasts U.S. Soccer for Claiming It Pays Women More.”

[6] Molly Olmstead. 30 July 2019. Slate. “U.S. Men’s National Team Blasts U.S. Soccer for Claiming It Pays Women More.”

[7] U.S. Soccer. 29 July 2019. “U.S. Women’s National Team Compensation & U.S. Soccer Investments in Women’s Soccer.”  https://www.ussoccer.com/governance/board-of-directors/us-soccer-president-carlos-cordeiro/open-letter-july-29-2019-finding-common-ground

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