Five key members of the United States Women's National Team have filed an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that the U.S. Soccer Federation is guilty of wage discrimination.
In the action, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn claim that the USWNT is being paid almost four times less than the United States Men's National Team, even though the women drew in $20 million in revenue in 2015.
It's Time The Women Get Equal Pay
Despite all their success and international recognition, the members of the USWNT have not enjoyed the same financial benefits as their male counterparts, who quite frankly, have done nothing comparable on the international stage. Lloyd, Solo, Morgan and the recently retired Abby Wambach are some of the most recognizable and popular female athletes in the world and are arguably the face of US Soccer. Even the most casual of soccer fans would be hard pressed to name five members of the men's team, even though the men make $68,750 when they make the World Cup team, as opposed to the $30,000 the women who make the team earn.
To this author it is time that the women receive equal pay. The argument that the men's World Cup qualifying field is much more difficult, while valid, is a tired one. The men have quite frankly done zero on the international stage, while the women are the reigning World Cup and Olympic Champions.
In figures obtained from U.S. Soccer, the grossly unfair gap in pay is best reflected in this statistic: the U.S. women won the World Cup last year in Canada with a 5-2 victory in the final against Japan. The team earned $2 million for winning the tournament. The U.S. men's team, conversely, earned $9 million the year before at the World Cup in Brazil after going 1-2-1 and losing in the Round of 16. A mere two million for a group of athletes who have outperformed their male counterparts in terms of revenue making and on the field of play.
Fair? This writer thinks not.
The Argument Against
While there is no denying the USWNT is enjoying an remarkable run of success, both on and off the field, some soccer fans complain that the women simply aren't relevant, arguing that they only matter every four years when the World Cup rolls around. They also argue that the level of competition simply isn't equal, that the men's pool runs far deeper than the women. The main threats to the women remain Japan as well as France and Canada with England a rising talent. The men have to routinely compete with the likes of Brazil, Spain, Colombia, Italy, Germany and England to name a few. Thus, why should the women get equal pay for less than equal competition? The point again is fair, however, consider this: the requirements for the women are identical to the men- the same amount of mimimum friendlies, the same preparation for the World Cup but with inferior playing surfaces and accomodations in terms of travel and hotels.
Adding to the argument against the women is the thriving MLS, in which competition has never been better, as opposed to the struggling NWSL, which is the third women's league which has been conceived since MLS was launched. MLS enjoys far more national recognition as opposed to the NWSL. And when the members of the USWNT depart the league for either the World Cup or Olympics, the level of play drastically declines far more than it does in MLS.
Despite the valid argument against, the fact that the USWNT simply is a bigger and more popular draw than the men cannot be ignored. Lloyd, Wambach and Morgan are more than just soccer players--they are ambassadors and the source of inspiration to young girls everywhere. They have supplied more thrills and excitement over the past sixteen years than their male counterparts and continue to be a chief source of revenue for U.S. Soccer. Their time for equal pay is long overdue.