Perfect play & imperfect pay! The all-conquering US women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) will have none of the latter. A Megan Rapinoe penalty and a Rose Lavelle long-range strike against the Netherlands took America to a record fourth Women’s World Cup title.
As the champions basked in applause at the Groupama Stadium, the crowd was chanting; ‘Equal pay, equal pay!’ Donning their team’s red away jersey, the fans echoed the thoughts of their team.
Even before the World Cup, US women’s team members filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation alleging them of institutionalized gender discrimination and pointed to inequitable compensation when compared to the men’s national team.
A Guardian report which appeared after the USWNT progressed to the quarterfinal said that a player could receive only $200,000 if the team became world champions. However, similarly, a US men’s national team member could potentially earn $1,113,430.
This rising difference in the earnings of the men’s and women’s teams is at the root of the fight for equal pay. The USWNT’s kept this fight in the spotlight through the World Cup and after it.
International Support for the Team
Norway’s Ada Hegerberg, one of the best players in the world, refused to play for her national team in this World Cup to continue her protest against gender and wage discrimination as she actively supported the USWNT. In addition, Hegerberg, the first recipient of the Women’s Ballon d’Or last year, hasn’t played for Norway since 2017 when the team crashed out of the Euros.
Her reason is simple; the gap is enormous, but at the same time equal opportunity should be given to young women and girls like the men. That’s where the change is needed. Just after Hegerberg stepped away from the team, Norway signed an equal pay agreement, with the men’s national team giving away 560,000 kroner ($63,626) for commercial activities to their women counterparts. Hegerberg has not conceded the protest.
Furthermore, the fight for pay parity is resonating at many places as in April this year, the Argentinian Football Association (AFA) agreed to subsidise one year professional contracts for seven female players, but it amounted to $330 a month. Also, this came about only after UAI Urquiza player Macarena Sánchez made headlines when she sued her own club and the AFA for not being recognised as a professional.
If we talk about world statistics, according to the 2017 Sporting Intelligence annual salary survey, while there are 137,020 male professional soccer players in the world, while the women’s count is only limited to 1,288.
There is immense pressure on US Soccer Federation & FIFA itself. FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino proposed doubling the total prize money of the Women’s World Cup to $60 million in 2023. But this would still be well below the $400-million prize money for the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup. Incidentally, the men’s purse will rise to $440 million for the Qatar World Cup in 2022.
Also Read: The Effects of Commercialization on Sports