USWNT Still Winning, Still Not Getting Equal Pay

Illustration for article titled USWNT Still Winning, Still Not Getting Equal Pay
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The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team is no less the powerhouse it was last summer, having gone undefeated since January 2019. They’re also still not getting equal pay, so I guess so much for Procter & Gamble.


The New York Times reports that on Saturday night, shortly before USWNT defeated Spain in a U.S. Soccer tournament, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro published an open letter excoriating the women’s team for refusing to discuss settling a multimillion dollar gender discrimination lawsuit leveraged against the federation. Apparently, Cordeiro took issue with the team’s demand that U.S. Soccer ensure women players’ pay match men players’ pay.

“There is indeed a significant difference in World Cup prize money awarded by FIFA to the men’s and women’s championship teams,” Cordeiro wrote in the letter. “However, it is not reasonable or fiscally sound for U.S. Soccer to make up the gap.”

It was not lost on team captain Megan Rapinoe that the letter was published one day prior to March 8, which is International Women’s Day. “If that’s how you want to celebrate International Women’s Day and show support for not only your players but for potentially future players and girls all over the place, that’s one way to do it,” she told the New York Times.

There is a significant pay gap between USWNT and the men’s national team, though U.S. Soccer claims that difference exists because USWNT “specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract than the men’s national team, despite being offered, and rejecting, a similar pay-to-play agreement during the past negotiations,” according to a statement the federation provided the Associated Press last month.

Some of that negotiation includes paid child-care assistance and paid pregnancy and parental leave, responsibilities which tend to burden women more than men. Even so, USWNT says the federation told the team that “equal pay was not an option regardless of pay structure,” and that U.S. Soccer “fully intend[s] to continue to compensate women players less than men,” USWNT spokesperson Molly Levinson told the Associated Press.


With the publication of Cordeiro’s letter, USWNT seems even more determined to take the suit to trial. Rapinoe told the New York Times that the team wants “[a]n actual offer for equal pay, and some considerable damages as well,” so for now, they’re still at a standoff.



Berner Sanders

There are a few different questions here and they get smushed together in most articles on this topic.

(a) Should the US soccer federation pay its women and men on the national teams equally?

(b) Should FIFA’s World Cup prize money for women and men be equal?

(c) Should US club team pay for women and men be equal?

The answer to (a) is surely Yes. (The women’s national team is even more of a draw than the men’s here in the US.) And, indeed, the US soccer federation already does pay women and men on the national teams equally.

The answer to (b) might be Yes. But the fact is that international attendance/viewership (and hence revenue) of women’s World Cup soccer is *substantially* lower than for men’s. (Over $5billion in revenue compared to a few hundred million, according to some figures. That’s a monstrous difference. I can see a reasonable case for accepting this difference and then arguing that much of the revenue from the men’s world cup should be redirected to further increase prize money for the women’s cup, but such an argument needs to first accept the massive lopsidedness of revenue. Ignoring it doesn’t help the case)

The answer to (c) might also be Yes. But again the fact is that US attendance/viewership (and hence revenue) of women’s club soccer is still much lower than for men’s.