The women’s world cup is coming to an end and in yet another fiasco where there are no winners. For the past several years, the US Women’s Soccer team has been one of the best, if not THE best, in the world for their respective sport. In 2011, the team was thrust into the spotlight when they were stunned in the world cup final by Japan losing 2–2 (3–1 on penalties). Since then, these women haven’t been making headlines for off-field incidents, but one could argue it’s their antics that is creating headlines.
It’s 2019, articles like this are difficult because just like the political environment we live in, there is only a right side and a wrong side. There is no potential to have a civil conversation or just discuss things without getting heated and friendships ruined and families destroyed. When it comes to men and women, it’s night and day, black and white…Conservative and Liberal.
What’s the Back Story?
The back story of US Women’s Soccer vs. The World is that equal pay does not exist. This is an argument that can be made throughout many, many, many jobs around the country to this day. Do women deserve equal pay as a man to perform the same job, in the same market, in the same industry? OF COURSE! There is no doubt, why shouldn’t they?
HOWEVER, and this is big, when it comes to women’s soccer, it just doesn’t bring in nearly as much as the US Men’s Soccer team does. In short, how can you pay two people equally when one brings in $100 and the other brings in $25? From a business standpoint, someone is going to go bankrupt very quickly.
The 2015 World Cup
It didn’t begin in 2015, but this is when it became widely known that the women made significantly less than the mens team. The women had just won the world cup and the total prize pool for winning…$15 million. After all was said and done, the US women took home roughly $2 million for winning. In the 2014 mens world cup when the US men were eliminated in the round of 16, they took home nearly $9 million. The reason, the prize pool for the men’s world cup was $576 million, an astonishing 40 times what the women’s tournament prize was.
So, how can women make the same amount of money as the men when there is over a $500 million difference in revenue?
Who is to blame for the difference? The answer, is business. The women’s team received a total sponsorship of $17 million, the men, $529 million. The more interesting statistic…the women earned a larger share of the winnings compared to their counterparts. So why don’t sponsors pump women’s sporting events like they do mens? Because people don’t pay to watch women’s games.
United States Professional Soccer
Soccer in the US has always had a difficult time competing with football, basketball, and baseball. American’s don’t enjoy watching a sport that may only score one to two times for nearly two hours of viewership. High-paced, action-packed sports are what they prefer. Soccer has been on the rise in the past few years and that has a lot to do with the success of the men in the 2014 world cup and how the women have been performing for the past several years.
Albeit soccer doesn’t have the viewership of a Sunday NFL game, the MLS average attendance is still 20,504, a significant increase over the past decade. The NWSL average attendance is 5,046, and the previous two leagues have folded. The US women’s team needs not look at the mens team and demand equal pay, they need to do something to the US Soccer Federation and demand change.
Several women’s athletes have taken action by filing a complaint with the United States Soccer Federation demanding equal opportunity and pay….but because of sexism. Their wages are expected to rise next year, but still not on the same level as the men. The problem, the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 state that the women’s and men’s national teams receive fundamentally different pay structures for performing different work under their separate collective bargaining agreements. In short, they lose.
However, over the past few years the women’s team has eclipsed the men’s team in revenue generated, $50.8 million to $49.9 million respectively. This helps to support the case that the women are fighting for. Does this mean changes will be made immediately? The answer is most likely no.
There is so much legality involved with soccer that it’s a dizzying whirlwind to try to keep up. Many of the men are paid on a per-play basis, which means that if they don’t show up to play for the men’s team, they don’t receive any compensation. The women on the other hand do receive compensation if they’re not able to play in a national team game. These are terms agreed upon by the NWSL to protect their female athletes.
What’s to Come of All of This
A lot. There is a lot to come away with, especially after the women’s world cup concludes with it’s final on Sunday. If the US women win, this continues to strengthen their argument to receive more sponsorship funding, the NWSL needs to market the star players more to actually draw people into the games. What 10 year old girl wouldn’t want to see her favorite player live and actually meet her after the game? MARKET THAT, SELL THAT. It isn’t that women aren’t good athletes, it’s that businesses don’t want to take a chance on losing money by paying for sponsorships that don’t have equal or greater value. That’s the problem.
When the US takes on the Netherlands in the final, the game is at 11 am and will be broadcast around the world. However, some women are not happy about what’s to follow their game. Men’s soccer also has some tournament finals on the same day. At 3 pm, Brazil will face Peru in the Copa America final, shortly after that, the US will face Mexico in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final at 9 pm. And while this should be a huge day for soccer, seriously, huge day, the US women are not happy one bit. They feel the other games are taking away from them and feel slighted by the soccer federation for not giving them their own day.
So on a day when there are two pretty big games, and one game that will be watched globally, the women aren’t happy because they aren’t able to bask in their glory and receive proper viewership, even though the games will not conflict with each other. Advertisers, analysts, and fans don’t believe there will be any impact on viewership for and of the games either.
What Do I Think?
It wouldn’t surprise me if you don’t care what I think, but I’d like to voice my opinion anyway. Should the women get paid equally to what men get paid? Yes. However, they need to get paid if they are bringing in the same revenue that the men do. Which as of late, seems to be the case. The soccer federation needs to do a better job of pushing women’s soccer especially if/when they win back-to-back world cups.
Should the women be upset that they don’t get their special day? Absolutely NOT. This is a huge day for soccer around the world. The biggest game in women’s soccer has it’s own time, on it’s own channel, AROUND THE WORLD. People of all countries will tune in to see if the US can win back-to-back. I’m sure they’ll also tune in to see what antics they perform as well. I see you Alex Morgan, loved the celebration!
Watch as much soccer as you can. Go out to a bar and watch it with friends. Get friends together and watch it at someone’s house. Get those viewership ratings up so sponsors will take notice and start to actually fund this women’s team that we have!