Opinion by J1 Reporter Cece West
Growing up, the U.S. women’s soccer team has not only been an influence for me, but for many girls around the country. I remember looking up to many of the players, such as Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and many others. They set an example for girls around the country, both on the field and off.
Their leadership values are demonstrated through their ongoing battle to receive equal pay with their male colleagues. In a recent turn of events, New York Times reported that Carlos Cordeiro, the president of the United States Soccer Federation, resigned from his position due to some questionable comments the soccer federation made. The federation argued that to be on the men’s team required more responsibility and skill, defending the pay gap between the two teams. To hear comments like this in 2020 is disappointing and outright sexist. It is frustrating to hear about organizations with lots of power treating women poorly. Midfielder Megan Rapinoe described the comments as “blatant misogyny,” and she is correct. The soccer federation is still using sexist comments as an argument for paying women unequally.
Many people hear about the wage gap between the men and women’s teams, but they do not know how much each team is earning. According to PolitiFact, if the women’s team were to play 20 “friendly” matches, they would earn a maximum of $99,000, while the men’s team would earn an average of $263,320. For these “friendly” games, the men’s team earns around 38 percent more than the women’s team.
These numbers are concerning for me because according to PolitiFact, ever since the 2015 World Cup, the women’s team has consistently brought in more revenue than the men’s team. From the years 2016-2018, the women’s team brought in $50.8 million, compared to the men’s $49.9 million. This is around a 2 percent difference, which is not a lot, but it raises the question as to why the men are paid 38 percent more for “friendly” matches. These statistics prove that the idea of men’s soccer bringing in more revenue than women’s soccer in the United States is false.
More people are also tuning in to watch the Women’s World Cup in the United States compared to that of the men’s. According to Jake Ryan, a sports-law specialist, “The World Cup final in 2015 and this year’s final set records for U.S. viewership for a soccer game.” The women’s 2019 World Cup was viewed around 20 times more in the United States than the men’s 2018 World Cup. I know that my family always watches the women’s team play, but we only occasionally watch the men’s.
In addition to bringing in more revenue and having higher viewership, the women’s team has broken records in the U.S. for jersey sales. I believe this is because there are also more household names on the women’s team. When around 150 Marian students were surveyed, 54 percent of the students said they could name a player on the women’s team, while only 13 percent of students could name a player on the men’s team. In the U.S., women’s soccer has a greater impact, especially on the youth, so why deprive them of the pay they deserve?
If women and men’s soccer were to be compared around the world, the men would bring in more revenue and have more viewers. However, this is not the case in the United States, and the women’s team is wanting equal pay within the U.S. Soccer Federation. From what I can tell, they are beating the men’s team in viewership and revenue. They have also won four World Cups compared to the men’s team’s zero World Cup wins. If the roles were switched around, the men would be making way more than the women. For instance, if the men were ranked number one in the world, like the women, this country would pay them much more than they do now. However, when the women are ranked first, they do not even make as much as the men, who did not even qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
It is time for this country to stop making excuses and start giving women the pay they deserve. Seeing large organizations using demeaning phrases to defend misogyny sends a poor message to young girls. The women’s team is an influence on and off the field to young female soccer players. Their ability to respond to criticism with maturity is a lesson to young women that we should not let men patronize us. It’s time that the U.S. sets an example for the rest of the world and treats women as equals, and it can start with paying them fairly. Equal work should result in equal pay, especially when the individuals are as talented as the U.S. women’s soccer team.