Why Equal Play, Equal Pay Matters


Kristen Hazzard, Sports Editor

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is ranked number one in the world. Despite their success, the women earn less than half of what the men’s national team makes. The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team didn’t even advance past the quarterfinals which meant the team failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, a first in 30 years. Meanwhile, the women have both Olympic gold medals and World Cups. The women have accumulated more wins, played more games and performed better on the field but still get paid less.

In 2016, members of the Women’s National Soccer Team filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the U.S. Soccer Federation for wage discrimination. One of the underlying issues was that the salaries of players from the women’s team were making 40 percent of what their male colleagues make. On top of that, the team has also highlighted the issues such as equality in field conditions and travel accommodations.

Before the complaint could reach an agreement, the team launched an Equal Play, Equal Pay campaign which highlights the pay discrepancy between men and women.

The pay disparity between men in 2018 vs women in 2015 show how wide the wage gap really is. In 2018, if the men qualified for the World Cup, they would have been paid $2.5 million while the women would be paid $345,000. If the men were to have won the World Cup, they would’ve been given $9.3 million however the women would be paid $1.8 million.

When the U.S. Women won the World Cup in 2015, officials had projected $16 million in revenue, but the team actually brought in more than $23 million. If the team snags another Olympic medal and World Cup title, they could bring in $17.5 million in revenue in the next fiscal year. The men, however, might lose $1 million this year.   

Some officials believe wherever the audience goes the money always follows. Those same officials say that the men’s team are usually expected to generate more revenue than women’s soccer because their games appear to be more exciting. However, the 2015 Women’s FIFA generated more than 20 million viewers in America.  

A year after their complaint went public, the team reached an agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation giving women more than a 30 percent increase in base pay for the players along with bonuses. The new deal also covers the women’s participation in the 2019 FIFA and 2020 Olympics and will also raise the pay for players at all levels. Even with the 30 percent increase, there is still some uncertainty for how long the process will take for the women to receive equal pay, however, the team has a new salary to look forward too.

Although the women’s soccer players’ main focus is on wage discrimination, the team still advocates for respect for women and girls in soccer. The players have realized that society tends to degrade the status of women in sports by saying they are physically incapable. The problem isn’t that women can’t play soccer, or aren’t good enough, it’s that women aren’t given the same opportunities to go professional. Even when they do go pro they aren’t paid the same amount as men.  

As the hype from the 2018 FIFA World Cup wears off, women soccer teams from around the world are prepping for the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will be returning in hopes to maintain their World Cup title for another four years.