Just after the U.S. women’s soccer team defeated the Netherlands to win the World Cup, fans chanted “Equal pay” at FIFA president Gianni Infantino and French president Emmanuel Macron as they took the stage at France’s Stade de Lyon to present Megan Rapinoe with the Golden Boot award for her performance in the tournament. The jeers highlighted the glaring income discrepancies between men’s and women’s soccer globally and in the U.S.
Rapinoe, who is currently tied with Meghan Markle to become America’s foremost Meg[h]an, used her post-game press conference to talk about inequality in the sport:
“I think everyone is ready for this conversation to move to the next step. I think we’re done with the ‘are we worth it? Should we have equal pay? Is it, you know, is the market the same’ yada, yada. Everyone is done with that - fans are done with that, players are done with that, in a lot of ways I think sponsors and everyone is done with that,” she said. “Let’s get to the next point of what’s next, how do we support women’s federation and women’s programs around the world. What can Fifa do to do that, what can we do to support the leagues around the world?”
In the U.S., women’s soccer games generate more money than men’s, though a lawsuit filed against the USSF by 28 members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team claims that from 2013 to 2016, women players earned just $15k after making the national team, as opposed to their male counterparts, who earned $55k in 2014 for making the national team, according to CNBC.
The pay gap in the U.S. is also a global trend. For example, the prize for this year’s Women’s World Cup team was $30 million, as opposed to the $400 million awarded to last year’s Men’s World Cup winners, according to CBS.
Until soccer pay approaches something resembling parity, Rapinoe says to keep booing:
“We as players, every player at this World Cup, put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for. We cannot do anything more to impress more, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better or do anything. It’s time to take it forward to the next step. A little public shame never hurt anybody, right? I’m down with the boos.”
The union representing the U.S. men’s team says it “fully supports” closing the pay gap, but plans to actually support closing it remain unclear.