OPINION: The US Women’s National Team deserves equal pay and denying that is insulting

District Court dismisses team’s claim for pay equality


A judge dismissed the U.S. Women’s National Team’s claim for equal pay on the basis of lack of evidence Friday, May 1. The team has been fighting for equal pay from the United States Soccer Federation since 2016. Graphic by Brooke Uhlenhop

Ruling that there is “insufficient evidence” that the United States Women’s National Team is paid unequally is a giant slap in the face. 

Not just to them or female athletes around the world, but to all women who are working to end the pay gap.

On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge for the Central District of California ruled that there was not enough evidence that the team was underpaid by the U.S. Soccer Federation in comparison to the Men’s National Team. The only part of the lawsuit left, if they do not appeal the decision, is the team’s claim about discrimination based on travel conditions. 

That news was devastating. 

The team has been in an ongoing legal battle for equal pay and treatment with the United States Soccer Federation since 2016, when five of their biggest players filed a lawsuit against them for wage discrimination. 

In 2017, a collective bargaining agreement was made increasing the players base pay by 30% with match bonuses. That made their base pay $300,000. Then, in 2019, the entire team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation.

The fact that they even have to go to trial to get equal pay for the equal work they do on an international level is insane but needed. Players have said that they knew the journey to equality — just in the soccer world — would not be an easy one, but an important one. 

As massive sports fans, we know women’s sports are almost non-existent when it comes to popularity and advertising. Society will almost always prefer men’s sports.  

However, it’s different with the USWNT. The USWNT is one of the most notable teams in recent sports history.

Almost every person on their roster has made a name for themselves, while only a handful of male soccer players are fairly notable. Try to name a single player on the USMNT. Go ahead, we will wait.

Overall, the women’s team has won four World Cup Tournaments and four gold medals at the Olympics. The men’s team has never won a World Cup — the best they have placed is third — and in 2014, they placed 15th. 

After the women’s 2015 World Cup win, a new interest in the team sparked throughout the American public, leading to a surge in revenue secured by the team. From 2016-2018, USWNT games brought in almost $1 million more in revenue than U.S. Men’s National Team games, effectively throwing out the argument that men bring in more revenue and should therefore be paid more. 

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While the leagues are competitive in their own ways, the U.S. women’s team is the best in the world of women’s soccer. They won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in which they went undefeated in the tournament. 

To drive the point home: in 2018, France won the FIFA World Cup. The total prize was $400 million, $38 million went to France, which was then divided among players and staff. The rest of the prize money was distributed to the other teams in the tournament based on their placing.

In 2019, the USWNT won the Women’s World Cup. The total prize was $30 million and $4 million of that went to the U.S. to divide among the team. The teams that placed in the bottom 16 of the men’s tournament made $4 million more than the winning women’s team.

It does not make sense that they make so much less than people who do the same work.

In simple terms, the job of professional athletes is to make the playoffs and go as far as possible in it. So, the job of a professional soccer athlete is to go far in the World Cup. 

The women have been consistently performing this job better than the men, yet their fight for equal pay keeps getting squashed because the American public doesn’t seem to be ready for the conversation that women are more successful than men in something, especially something related to sports. 

People have made the argument that they do not work as hard or as dirty as their counterparts. By people, we mostly mean the misogynistic and toxic soccer fanbase on Twitter. (By rule of thumb, if a random account has a soccer player as their profile picture, we know to not interact.)

In fact, in an attempt to sway the courts in dismissing the case, the U.S. Soccer Federation made statements in court documents that the USMNT carried “more responsibility” than that of the USWNT.  They also said, “It is undisputed that the job of (Men’s National Team) player requires materially more strength and speed than the job of (Women’s National Team) player.”

They later apologized after receiving backlash from the public, but that doesn’t makeup for the fact that U.S. Soccer used such egregious language to campaign against equality. You would think you would have more admiration for a team that has shown tremendous success and has brought in millions of dollars in revenue. 

The comments made by the U.S. Soccer Federation were not only unacceptable and offensive, they were downright disgusting. What kind of message do those kinds of comments send to young female athletes? 

Women have fought so hard for equality in this country, and this decision seems to have caused progression to work in reverse. 

The President of U.S. Soccer, Carlos Cordeiro even tried to say the women get paid in healthcare and that the men’s team got paid less than the women’s team from 2010- 2018. 

Story continues below tweet. 

The men’s team denied those claims and Cordeiro resigned in March.

Wake up, America. It’s time to realize that the women out there are just as much of an athlete as any man that has ever walked onto a soccer field. 

The women’s team works hard and deserves to be paid the same as the men’s team. They at least win.