It is no secret how dominant the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT) is. (Remember that acronym, because soccer has a lot of them). The team has placed in the top three of every single World Cup and won it four times, including the first-ever final in 1991 and most recently in 2019. They have also been Olympic gold medalists four times and won eight Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Gold Cups. The team has a sterling resume — miles better than the U.S. men’s team — and the current team roster features legendary names such as Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz. Even with these accolades, the team has been in a deadlock battle with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) over receiving compensation equal to the men’s team. USSF refuses to budge, but with the men’s national team officially supporting the women’s team in their fight, that might change.
Since the women’s team agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with USSF in 2017, there has been discontent among the players on the women’s team over their pay. You may wonder why the team signed the agreement if the terms weren’t to their liking. Unfortunately, the women’s team was not in a powerful position to negotiate, as USSF are in control of both the national team and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the professional league in the United States. The NWSL is the third professional women’s league to exist in the country, with the Women’s Professional Soccer league and Women’s United Soccer Association both folding due to a lack of resources. Because of this, the members of the women’s team, who all play in the NWSL, must act with the league in mind: without it, they would be forced to not play at all outside of international competitions or to relocate to Europe for any reliable game time. USSF is obviously very aware of their position of power, and used said position to create a CBA that was more beneficial to them than to the women’s team.
The men’s team has released an official statement, and they made it very clear they do not agree with USSF’s actions. There is no dancing around the subject as you might expect from a statement of this nature, as evidenced by the quote: “Yes, the Federation continues to discriminate against the women in their wages and working conditions.” Critics who believe the women don’t deserve more pay cite revenue, claiming the men’s team brings in more money and therefore should be paid more. Regardless of how uneducated that opinion may be, it’s also objectively false.
According to audited USSF financial statements from 2016–2018, the women’s team generated nearly a million more dollars in revenue than the men’s team. That figure might seem negligible to some, but not when you note that the women make almost $200,000 less per player than the men each year. A team that wins more and brings in more money somehow makes less per year than their male counterparts. If you’re surprised, you shouldn’t be. It’s very clear what’s going on here. Women’s sports are discriminated against constantly in the U.S., whether it be the NWSL or the WNBA. The only solution is to go to those in charge, those holding the positions of power, and make it very obvious this behavior won’t be tolerated anymore. The men’s team put it perfectly in their statement with the words, “Write to your Congressional representatives and tell them it is time to reform the Federation.” Nothing will change unless those who support these teams — you and me — do something about it. It is time to act.