USWNT and Equal Pay Progress

In a recent interview on 60 Minutes about the equal pay lawsuit that has been in the works between the USWNT and the U.S Soccer Federation, who is their employers, fans get a better insight as to what is really taking place behind the scenes.

USWNT and Equal Pay Progress
The USWNT celebrating their 2015 WWC Championship title after their 5-2 victory against Japan. (Source: US Soccer)

Despite the let down during the past summer Olympics, the United States Women's National Team are still ranked number one in FIFA. After the USWNT received the 2015 Women's World Cup Championship title, the game was aired by 30 million Americans and was ranked as the highest soccer match in history viewed. 

Why the USWNT takes action

The USWNT lawsuit against the Federation has nothing to do with a disagreement against the the players of the USMNT. It's main reasoning is the unequal pay that the women don't receive although they are under the same employment of U.S Soccer and have the same requirements of the game as the men do. Carli Lloyd, USWNT co-captain and 2015 FIFA Player of the year stated her thoughts about the discrimination that the team is receiving: 

"We feel like we're treated like second class citizens because they (U.S Soccer Federation) don't care as much about us as they do the men." 

The differences in benefits and pay

The men of the national team are paid per game, despite if they win or lose, whereas the women are paid on a salary based contract. The average salary for the women is $72,000 a year, which can include bonuses for wins up to $1,350. Their contract includes health insurance and maternity leave. While paid per game, the men can also make up to $7,625 for a US victory.

During the 2014 Men's World Cup, the Championship German team was awarded 35 million dollars for their victory of the tournament.

When the USWNT brought home the 2015 Championship title for the World Cup, they were awarded two million dollars.

With the insane difference in pay, there's no reason why the women shouldn't be fighting this battle with everything they have.

Co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn stated:

"To be paid equally is not about what they think is fair, but what is fair."

Is the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) the only hope for the USWNT?

The EEOC accuses US Soccer of violating the equal pay act and title seven, which is a law included in the Civil Rights Act that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, etc.

In response to the complaint from the EEOC, U.S Soccer Federation stated, "Any differences in....compensation....are driven by factors other than gender..."

The USWNT filed this complaint to the EEOC as they felt as it was their best chance in order for something to be done.

The "other factors" according to the U.S Soccer Federation

The factors "other than gender" include revenue and TV ratings. With the men's games being aired on more popular and accessible channels such as ESPN rather than Fox Sports 1, people are easily able to have access to watching the men play through the screen of a television. Although the U.S Federation advertises and sells both the USMNT and the USWNT to different broadcasters and sponsors as one unit, the men's team still has four times more viewers for their game rather than the women's.

 The USWNT right before a season match against Thailand. | Source: US Soccer
The USWNT starting XI right before this year's match against Thailand. | Source: US Soccer

Why this is such a rare and huge case for the USWNT and the U.S Soccer Federation

Since this case is rare in itself, the progress of improving the equal pay between the men and women has taken much time and consideration from lawyers and even from the U.S Soccer Federation. A synopsis of a statement in an interview with the lawyer for the USWNT, is that it isn't a common case for professional athletes to sue their own employees when the same employers have hired both men and women to play the same game under the same working conditions and circumstances. As both have the same expectations to what they bring to the pitch, the women still aren't payed equally as they should.

NWSL vs MLS

Even in the club teams, men have more funds in their budget to be abel to fund more teams and games. Although a majority, if not all USWNT are apart of NWSL club teams, the women mainly rely on their source of income from the USWNT as playing just for a club team won't give them much income. With the rise of the women's club teams in the NWSL over the past couple of years, there are a total of 10 NWSL teams. The MLS teams for the men have approximately 20 teams, double the amount of women's teams. Since the NWSL teams are recently formed, there aren't as much funds in order to have 20 teams. With what the NWSL does have, they have been able to be successful with having 10 teams in their league formed over the course of four or five years.

Comparison to close

As the USWNT are in this battle for the long run to see the light of day when equal pay is distributed to women in soccer, they're dedication on and off the field is what is inspiring to fans all over America. In this 60 Minute interview with Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Christen Press, and Morgan Brian, the comparison of USWNT former goalie Hope Solo and USMNT goalie Tim Howard were brought up about their incomes and appearances. 

As the men and women have the same requirements from U.S Soccer, even their two top goalies from each team have extreme differences in what they receive for the same work.

In one year with 23 games of playing time, one of the greatest goalkeepers in the world, Hope Solo had an income of $366,000. Tim Howard, who is by far one of the greatest men goalkeeper's to play for the U.S. appeared in eight games in a year and made $398,495.  

Even though the USWNT has won three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals, their success still isn't enough to the Federation to be respected in having an income of equal pay for what they deserve. As they continue in this lawsuit, the hope to achieve this right of equal pay, which should've been given in the first place is the right result that is hoped to come for the USWNT.