The U.S. Women’s National Team’s second consecutive World Cup win has amplified the conversation about equal pay tenfold. There has long been a massive discrepancy between the pay afforded players on men’s and women’s soccer teams, and the usual bad faith arguments against pay parity—that men’s teams are more successful and generate more income—have been rendered moot by the women’s team’s success and profitability.
But the battle is still ongoing, and Megan Rapinoe’s been urging fans to get even louder (literally) in demanding the pay gap’s closure. She reiterated that point on The Rachel Maddow Show on Tuesday night, noting that the best way for fans to help professional women soccer players achieve equal pay is to, well, support professional women’s soccer.
Rachel Maddow: I think fans want to know what they can do to support that fight.
Megan Rapinoe: Fans can come to games. Obviously, the national team games will be a hot ticket, but we have nine teams in the NWSL. You can go to your league games, you can support that way. You can buy players’ jerseys, you can lend support in that way, you can tell your friends about it, you can become season ticket-holders. I think in terms of that, that’s the easiest way for fans to get involved.
That sounds obvious, but it’s actually an important point. The USWNT generates a lot of press and attention in World Cup and Olympic years, but the team members all play for the National Women’s Soccer League, which generally has less eyes on it that the national team. This is also the crux of the Equal Pay battle. As NPR reports, in 2019 league players’ salaries ranged from about $16,538 to $46,200—considerably less than what many of the men make—and since pay is largely dependent on ticket and merch sales, having a dedicated fanbase should help boost it.
Of course, supporting women’s soccer outside the big events is about more than just equal pay. Women professional athletes get a fraction of the attention and support men athletes do. Soccer is still not a mainstream sport in the United States, even though our women’s national team consists of some of the best athletes in the country.
The World Cup was an incredibly fun reminder that these athletes are out there making sports magic beyond the big events, and though some teams do enjoy big fandoms, I hear way less about the Portland Thorns than I do about the New York Mets, even though the latter is an ever-crumbling mess. I’d love to see women’s soccer blow up nationally, if just so I never have to think about the Wilpons again.