Last March, the U.S. Women’s Soccer team filed their equal pay lawsuit last against the U.S. Soccer Federation, arguing that they deserve gender equality after winning the Women’s World Cup and generating more revenue in July 2019.
The Soccer Federation replied by saying that men have more ability and therefore deserve more pay. The United States Soccer Federation, (USSF), explained in their opposition document that “it’s not [a] sexist stereotype to recognize the different levels of speed and strength required for the two jobs”. In May 2020, Judge R. Klausner wanted to throw out the case because the women “agreed to a differently structured contract that prioritized stable salaries over per-game bonuses.” The men’s collective bargaining agreement has a pay-for-play structure that is based on incentive, meaning that the men only get paid if they appear on the roster for games. The women’s agreement guaranteed salaries and benefits. Basically, the women are provided an annual salary of $100,000 while the men get larger bonuses per game.
Those pay structures are unfair because if both teams play the same amount of games, the men would earn more. In order for women to receive 89% of what a male player would make, win or lose, the women would have had to win every major game each season. This means that although the men’s team didn’t qualify for their tournament in 2019, the women would’ve made less than the men if they had lost the World Cup. Thankfully the women won and received $4 million for their effort! Yet when the MNT qualified in 2014, the USSF received $9 million for making it to the second round. If they are paying athletes based on performance, what sense does that make?
Contrary to popular belief, the women’s team has recently generated more revenue than the men’s. The Washington Post found that “In the year following the 2015 World Cup win, women’s games generated $1.9 million more than the men’s games.” In March 2019 the U.S. Men’s team issued a statement supporting the Women’s argument for equal pay, declaring “An equal division of revenue attributable to the MNT and WNT programs is our primary pursuit.” The world is enraged at the disparity, and even the Men’s National Soccer team understood the need for equal pay.
After years of disputing the contracts, The USSF announced on September 14, 2021, that they are offering a “single pay structure for both senior national teams”. This proposal ensures that both teams will be paid based on a revenue-sharing structure and will receive the benefits from future investments. In addition, FIFA promised to double the prize money for the 2023 women’s tournament. Under the new pay structure, if the men earn more than the women, it is because they were able to produce better results on the field.
The USSF is not the first organization to be attacked regarding equal treatment. The Republic of Ireland women’s soccer team threatened to strike in 2017 with the same desire for gender impartiality. It wasn’t until August 2021 that the female players confirmed the same pay as the men’s team. Tweets and other socials went viral as the world supported this “historic day for Irish football”. There is a ball rolling, and it isn’t the one they play with.
The outcome of these cases is a message for female athletes everywhere. The Women’s Soccer team has laid the legal groundwork for other women’s teams to fight for their rights. If the Women’s team held out for multiple years, so can any other female athlete. Multiple national women’s teams have joined the legal battle for equal pay and won. Now that the National teams have stood up against the media, professional, and legal fields, it is time for the smaller teams to fight too. It’s up to the women being told they don’t deserve equal pay because that’s just how it is. It’s not. The new season for spring sports is coming, and now is the time to join the war for equal pay.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Kassidy Meiszburg is an undergraduate English Major with a concentration in professional writing and prelaw at the University of Dayton. Her published pieces include recaps and interviews for the athletic teams at Dayton for Flyer News.