Unequal Play and Unequal Pay

Personal Article

Does the United States Women’s National Soccer Team deserve to be paid the same as their male counterparts? Read this article to learn more.

by Prithvi Prem

The United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) has featured on headlines recently, due to the ongoing lawsuit they filed against the US soccer federation.

In March of 2019, the national team filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the federation. Since filing this lawsuit, they have gone on to win their second consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup, celebrated by chants of "Equal Pay!" from fans in Lyon.

The team has also gained support from many politicians and celebrities across the country. However, a Californian judge proceeded to rule against the players on many claims, including their allegation of discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. The players, who plan to appeal, filed a motion on May 8th asking permission to begin that appeal process. By appealing, the players are applying to a higher court for a reversal of the decision made by the lower court.

Now all of that leaves us here, waiting to see the outcome. And that’s where the Trilemma is presented: Should the USWNT be paid equally as their male counterparts, or do they not deserve as much? Or is there perhaps a neutral perspective?

POV 1: The USWNT should be paid equally as the Men’s National Team

Currently, the majority of the public believes that the USWNT should get paid equally as the men’s national team. Considering how the successful women's team has been over the past

30 years, it seems that they should be paid equally, if not more, than the men.

The USWNT has dominated women’s soccer for the majority of the time. Since the FIFA Women’s World Cup began in 1991, they have won four out of seven World Cups. Most recently, they won the 2019 World Cup in France, going undefeated throughout the tournament and winning the trophy twice in a row. They have also been ranked the best team in the world by FIFA for 10 of the past 11 years.

In comparison, the Men’s National Team (USMNT) has been competing in the FIFA World Cup since 1930; however, they missed qualifying for the FIFA World Cup ten times (including most recently in 2018), failing to advance past the quarterfinals each time they have qualified.

The success of the USWNT, when compared to the failures of their male counterparts, has caused attendance and popularity to shift to the women’s team.

According to data provided by the United States Soccer Federation, the men have outdrawn the women every year in attendance from 2006 to 2018. However, this changed in 2019. Research by ESPN concluded that women now had the upper hand, both for average attendance (28,002 for the women versus 21,776 for the men) and attendance for games in the U.S. (25,122 versus 23,305). This shows that the USWNT is certainly more successful and popular as compared to the men and, therefore, should be paid more.

According to The Washington Post, USWNT players are currently paid 89% of what the men get paid. Considering the massive success and popularity of the women, their pay should at least be equal. In regards to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the prize money the women’s team pocketed for winning the final was $4 million, which is quite small compared to the $38 million awarded to the French men’s team for winning the 2018 Men’s World Cup final.