The women’s national soccer team is finally fighting for the equal pay they deserve. Over spring break, five members of the women’s team (Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Becky Sauerbrunn) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation protesting their far lower wages than the men’s team. This suit is long overdue as the women’s team has always been underpaid despite being more successful than the men’s team.
The USWNT has won three world cup championships, to the USMNT’s zero. The USWNT has also been a powerful force in the Olympics, winning a majority of the gold medals that have been handed out in the past decades or so. The USMNT has failed to even qualify for the 2016 Olympics, a fact that is not at all surprising. The USWNT qualified for the Olympics with ease, dominating every opponent in qualifiers.
The U.S. Soccer Federation requires both the men’s team and the women’s team to participate in the same amount of friendlies and matches each year, but the women receive almost no compensation. If the USWNT wins, they each are paid a little over $1,000 for their effort. However if they lose, they get nothing. Each player on the USMNT however, is paid $5,000 no matter what the outcome. The women often win their matches, the men do not.
The quality of facilities that the teams play in differs significantly. It seems that the U.S. Soccer Federation could care less what condition the fields are in that the women play on, just as long as people show up. In early December the USWNT refused to play a scheduled match in Hawaii due to the low quality of the turf there. The previous day star Megan Rapinoe tore her ACL in a pre-match practice, most likely due to the bad turf.
The best players on both teams also have unequal pay as well. Alex Morgan, one of the USWNT’s best forwards, is paid $450,000 from the U.S. Soccer Federation and less than $30,000 from her club team. Clint Dempsey makes about $8 million annually, with $6 million coming from his club team. These numbers mean a lot more when the U.S. Soccer Federation plans to take a financial hit on the men’s side of the year and is only making a multi-million dollar profit due to the world cup success of the women’s team.
The U.S. Soccer Federation claims that they will do whatever it takes to fully investigate and will support the women’s team fully. Their words seem promising but many suits have been filed by women’s teams and nothing has come of them. The USWNT is hoping that their most recent surge of international publicity will help hold the U.S. Soccer Federation accountable for the inequality that exists.