The U.S. Women’s National Team now reportedly brings in more revenue than their counterparts on the men’s team, but still individually earn less than them.
According to a Wall Street Journal audit of financial reports from the U.S. Soccer Federation, the women’s team has generated more revenue than the men’s team each year since winning the 2015 World Cup in Canada. It’s yet another reason for the women’s national team to continue its fight for equal pay against the U.S. Soccer Federation.
After a resounding 13-0 shutout against Thailand in the U.S.’s opening game last week, the dominance of this team — and the ongoing legal challenge since March 8 — have been at the forefront of the World Cup.
The suit, filed by the full 28 members of the U.S. Women’s National Team, claims that the Federation has paid them less (at $4,950 per player, per game) than the men’s team ($13,166, per player, per game). In addition, they say the Federation has denied them equal accommodations for travel, training, and playing conditions. They’ve also promoted their games less.
The Federation’s main argument has been that the men bring in more revenue than the women’s team, but according to the Journal’s report, the revenue has been about equal for the past three years. “From 2016 to 2018, women’s games generated about $50.8 million in revenue compared with $49.9 million for the men, according to U.S. soccer’s audited financial statements,” Rachel Bachman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Out star player Megan Rapinoe told Out in March, it’s not like the women’s team are treated poorly by the U.S. Soccer Federation, but that doesn’t mean they’re “perfect, or that they’re doing all the best things.” Rapinoe says other women athletes who look to the USWNT for a model on how to demand equal treatment “should know, you’re not crazy, you’re just asking for what you’re worth. People will gaslight you and say that it’s not happening or say that what you’re asking for is nuts, but always believe in yourself, because you’re on the right side of this.”
The issue has gone beyond the domain of soccer fans in the U.S., and is now becoming a political talking point with Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren weighing in among others. “Here's an idea,” tweeted senator and presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand, “If you win 13-0—the most goals for a single game in World Cup history—you should be paid at least equally to the men's team.” Former Vice President and fellow contender Joe Biden chimed in, too: “In 2019, it’s past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men.” Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has refused to say whether the women’s team should be paid the same as the men’s, according to The Hill.
More broadly, FIFA, soccer's global governing body, says it will increase the prize money for the World Cup winners on the women's side. When France's men won the cup in 2018, they were awarded $38 million. For the U.S. women in 2015, they were awarded $2 million.
The equal pay issue doesn’t just affect the players. While she is believed to be the highest paid woman soccer coach in the world, according to the Washington Post, out coach Jill Ellis was paid a fraction of the U.S. men’s Jürgen Klinsmann’s $3.354 million salary (she has however signed a new contract bumping her pay). Klinsmann was let go from his position in 2016 for a poor performance in early qualifying rounds for the men’s World Cup, which the men’s team famously failed to qualify for in 2018.