U.S. national team soccer: Paying women what they deserve

They win a lot more than the men; why do they get paid so much less?

Jenn Leahy, Sports Journalism Reporter

I am a female athlete. I play Division III soccer and lacrosse. I know what it’s like to play a game in front of only a few fans, then watch the men’s team an hour later in front of the entire student body.

How many times has a guy on the soccer or lacrosse teams promised to come to one of my games, then suddenly find he has “too much to do?”

These attendance patterns are just the tip of the iceberg. The U.S women’s national team, for example, has won three World Cups and draw better TV viewership numbers than does the men’s team. Yet the men’s national team, which hasn’t accomplished anything since 2010 when they made it to the round of 16 in the World Cup, is paid much, much more than the women.

The top five women on the national team will receive $72,000 for playing 20 friendlies this season, while the men “earn” $406,000, or nearly six times that of the women. If the men’s national team wins the World Cup, and that’s a pretty big “if,” their bonus will be $390,000. What will the women get? $75,000. Pay should be based on talent.

Let’s look at the larger financial context: U.S soccer projects that the women’s national team will generate a profit of $5.2 million in 2017, while the men are expected to run a loss of $1 million. Now try justifying the pay gap.

In the WNBA, the minimum salary is about $39,000, while teams’ salary caps are $878,000. For the NBA, the minimum salary is $525,000, while salary cap is

$70 million (80 times that of the women)

For the 2014 PGA tour, more than $340 million was awarded in prize money. Over on the ladies’ side, on the LPGA tour (why is it the women who have to designate their gender in the name: Ladies Professional Golf Association? Why isn’t it the Men’s Professional Golf Association?) doles out “just” $62 million.

Gender inequality in pro sports is widespread, in other words.

Why isn’t anything being done about this?

Most see no problem at all, and I’m talking about men and women. When sports fans are confronted with this problem, they either don’t care or can’t be bothered to do more than maybe change the channel.

And it’s a male-dominated sports world. Men do not want a woman controlling anything because they live off of control and will not have their power taken away from them. Maybe this is why they love the sports industry. They know that they have the upper hand, so they use it to their advantage and push inequality under the carpet. They don’t like change, and that’s what will happen if women are heard.

We all should care, because if women aren’t “equal” to men when they are actually better (i.e., national team soccer), then how can women expect any material steps toward pay equity? That women get paid less is a confirmation of their perceived status in society. After all, despite working just as hard as men, outside the sporting world, women are paid 78% of what men are paid for the same job. Workplace discrimination, pure and simple.

And the United States isn’t alone. The Australian women’s national soccer team, too, has been fighting for pay equity, but perhaps because they aren’t as “prominent” as the U.S women’s team, their voice hasn’t been heard.

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