Amid years of lawsuits around the pay gap and other gender discrepancies in U.S. Soccer, it should have been good news that in 2019 the U.S. Soccer Federation had hired a former player and woman as its general manager of women’s programming. But due to the fact that the barrier-breaking reportedly pushed a male general manager into an even higher, better-paid position so that no one would know the Federation was shafting said woman out of $200k a year, the barrier was basically patched right back up while everyone patted themselves on the back.
According to the Guardian, multiple sources say the hiring of Kate Markgraf as general manager of women’s programming meant a $500,000 salary for Markgraf, while her male counterpart, Earnie Stewart, made $700,000 a year for a job that actually entailed less work.
“That large pay gap could perhaps be explained by Stewart’s long resume of technical experience compared to Markgraf, who would be new to a GM role. But the men’s GM role was also much smaller in scope and, when Stewart was first hired, he was only expected to oversee the men’s senior national team. Markgraf, meanwhile, was tasked with not just the women’s senior team but all youth programming on the girls’ side as well.”
So instead of coughing up some cash to pay Markgraf equally, the U.S. Soccer Federation allegedly did what any truly messed up system would do: promoted the man and paid him more so headlines wouldn’t say how big the pay gap was. Stewart’s new gig as the first-ever sporting director came one pretty unremarkable year after he’d gotten a general manager job and bumped his pay up to $800,000 a year, while the male manager hired to replace him will be paid less than $400,000 a year. Awesome to be Earnie right now!
However, there is an argument to be made that this isn’t mustache-twirling sexism at play, but that the disparity is merely a reality of the world in which we live and play soccer:
“It cost more money to lure Stewart away from his sporting director job at the Philadelphia Union after similar stints for Dutch clubs than it cost to hire Markgraf, who had worked outside of soccer in academia.”
Yet it does seem like it would have been cheaper, and better for the headlines, if the soccer suits had just made a weensy little concession to misandry by paying the lady the same as the dude for doing more work.