The Facts Behind the United States Women's Soccer Team's Fight for Equal Pay
Originally published July 2019.
The 2019 United States women’s national soccer team is the most successful team in the history of international women’s soccer.
Having won four World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, this team is an unstoppable force. They even hold more World Cup titles than the United State’s men’s team (which has never won a World Cup).
So, why is the United States women’s soccer team passionately fighting for equal pay?
Since winning the women’s World Cup in 2015, the women’s team began bringing in more revenue than their male counterparts. Four years later, those numbers supposedly haven’t matched what’s on their paychecks.
According to financial experts, the reason these talented women aren’t receiving equal pay is much more complicated than their arguments.
Simply put: these women do receive equal pay.
Two years ago, as the result of a deal struck between team representatives and the United States Soccer Federation, the top 18 women on the team began receiving $172,500 before bonuses and game-day pay. They also receive health insurance and paid maternity leave.
The men’s team has not struck a deal that would pay them as much, and the players who are benched at games get nothing.
The United States Soccer Federation pays the women’s soccer team, and the team negotiated higher salaries after filing a lawsuit against them—something the men’s team hasn’t done. In fact, the men’s team doesn’t get paid by the federation at all—their pay comes from tournament clubs.
The federation was brought into the issue when the women’s team realized they weren’t making as much as men when playing non-tournament games. After filing the lawsuit, the women’s team received their higher salaries and all the accompanying benefits.
Simply put: the women weren’t bringing in as much revenue when playing non-tournament games, so they saw an opportunity to begin their fight for equal pay.
Their fight for equal pay in 2019 does not reflect their payment from the federation. The United States Women’s soccer team is pushing for equal pay in all individual games, tournaments or not. For them, this fight is based on principle.
The roadblock is that the men’s team brings in more revenue throughout the entire season (not during the World Cup). Many see the issue from a “supply and demand” perspective.
Are the players fighting for equal pay aware that they are making more than the men’s team? Where is the root of their argument?
The issue lies in the way the teams are paid. Hope Solo spoke with 60 Minutes and explained, “The men get paid per game. Whether they win or lose.” According to Solo, the men get paid up to $17,625 per winning game.
60 Minutes reporters compared the earning of two top players in men’s and women’s soccer, Solo and goalkeeper Tim Howard. He made roughly $30,000 more in a season where she played in 23 games, and he played in eight.
The women may have been receiving hefty salaries and benefits, but the men were getting paid more per game, and sometimes, that amount significantly surpassed what the women were making.
The women’s soccer team’s campaign for equal pay continues, but it requires some intricate mathematical analysis for everyday people to understand why it’s an important issue.