June 14, 2022
In 2015, the women’s World Cup final was the most watched soccer game on a U.S. network. It brought in a 16 million dollar revenue boost for the U.S. soccer federation. The federation paid the women $60 a day in meal allowance while giving 75$ to the men. Offended by the implication of their worth from the meal allowance offered, the women’ soccer team fought, but how long would it last?
In March 2019, they sued the U.S. soccer federation for gender discrimination. In their statement the athletes declared that the discrimination wasn’t only apparent in their paychecks, but “where they play and how often, how they train, the medical treatment and coaching they receive, and even how they travel to matches.” One athlete said.
After a year of chants and social media hashtags, the U.S. Soccer Federation argued in court that science proved the womens’ world cup players were inferior to the men, therefore the fight for equal pay was unjustified saying “it’s not a sexist stereotype to recognize the different levels of speed and strength required for the two jobs.” They cited a study that indicates a 10-12% performance gap between male and female athletes. As a response, Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the U.S. women’s soccer team, said “This ridiculous ‘argument’ belongs in the Paleolithic Era. It sounds as if it has been made by a caveman,”
On April 20, 2020 Judge R.Gary Klausner ruled that the woman’s argument was wrong and in fact wrote that the women’s team had earned more “on both a cumulative and an average game basis.” But, in November 2020, victory was reached regarding the working conditions of the teams. Differences in travel and hotel accommodations in regards to the men’s and women’s national teams were removed, a small but necessary change needed to achieve the dreams of the soccer team.
On May 18, 2022 soccer history was made. After six years the United States Soccer Confederation eliminated the pay gap between the Men and Women’s national teams. Not only will there be equal pay for individual matches, the prize money received from FIFA will be distributed equally amongst the players. The first proposition of its kind in soccer history.
“They said equal pay for men and women was not possible, but that did not stop us and we went ahead and achieved it,” said Walker Zimmerman, a member of USNSTPA leadership group. But the disparities still remain; whilst the women’s team will have the opportunity to rack up more bonuses, they still struggle to receive a six figure salary while the men’s team brings in seven. Although this progress might have its imperfections, it’s incredibly important and definitely a step in the right direction.