The fight against equal pay

by Abby Smith

It is an undisputed fact that the United States Women’s National Soccer Team totally kicks ass: they are the only women’s national team with three World Cup victories after 2015’s victory. And are the reigning Olympic gold medalists after winning in 2012. Let’s not forget their former team captain, Abby Wambach, who recently retired from an unprecedented career which included scoring more international goals than any other player in history, man or woman. But in spite of all their successes on the field, the USWNT is currently fighting an off-the-field battle after filing a wage-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission this past March. Five of the team’s top players, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, and Becky Sauerbrunn, filed the complaint hoping to make themselves heard regarding the blatant pay discrepancies for the women’s national team. 

Here are some background facts: 
  • Both the men’s and women’s national teams play a minimum of 20 friendly matches each year. While the top five players on the US Men’s National Team make on average $406,000 from these matches, the top five female players are only guaranteed $72,000.
  • Men get roughly $69,000 for making the World Cup team roster while women get $15,000 for making the World Cup team.
  • When the USMNT wins the World Cup, their individual bonus would be $390,000. The USWNT who won the World Cup last year got $75,000 as a bonus.
But the pay disparity doesn’t stop at international wins; it follows players’ day-to-day expenses as well. 
  • While travelling internationally, the men’s team gets $75 per day for expenses, while the women get $60. Carli Lloyd put it most eloquently in her recent New York Times essay stating “maybe they figure women are smaller and thus eat less.”
Oh and for sponsor appearances? Women get paid $3,000 while the men are paid $3,750.
These women are fighting for equal pay for equal play; but if you look at the facts and figures, the women have to work harder to barely keep pace with what the men’s team is earning. Qualification for the Women’s World Cup has the USWNT playing five games in a single two-week tournament while the men’s team gets a two-year 16-game time frame. In fact, from 2012-2016 the USMNT has played a total of 76 games with a 44-18-14 record. The women? 110 games with a 88-6-16 record.

One of the many arguments against the complaint filed by the women’s 
team is that men’s games historically bring in more money than the women and therefore, their pay reflects that. And while that may have been true in the past, the latest figures are showing a different story: in 2015 the women’s team brought in $23 million in revenue for the U.S. Soccer Federation, $16 million more than predicted. After expenses and such, the women’s team profited $6.6 million while the men profited just under $2 million. The women’s team is forecasted to profit more than $5 million and bring in $17.5 million in revenue for 2017 while the men are figured to lose about $1 million in profits and only $9 million in revenue. 

So why does any of this matter? It matters for the next generation of female athletes in any sport on the national and international stage. This equal play equal pay movement has the ability to have a trickle-down effect for women across the board. Since women still only make .79 on the dollar compared to men, this problem affects women anywhere and everywhere. So while the world is watching to see how the E.E.O.C. handles the complaint, let’s continue the fight for equal pay across the board.



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