Reaching headlines this past week, six members of the United States women’s national soccer team have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) for unequal pay compared to their male counterparts. Looking at the cold hard facts, I cannot help but feel some sense of shame.
For a country that views itself as an icon for equality for female athletes around the world, it should be embarrassing that our National Soccer Federation does not pay its female athletes the same as it does for the male athletes.
When one takes into account the fact that our country prides itself on the passage and enforcement of the Title IX, leading to increased participation and investment in women’s athletics, it seems a bit odd that once these women launch their professional careers all that “equality” goes out the window.
As far as I can tell, there isn’t that much disparity between the popularity of either national team, as compared to our Olympic Basketball teams where the men’s team garners all the attention. And depending on whether the year has an international tournament or not, both teams bring in about equal revenue for the Federation, though the women’s team may actually bring in even more!
On top of that, the women’s team is comparatively better than the men’s team. The women’s team has won three FIFA Women’s World Cups, making them arguably the greatest program in the world.
Comparatively, the men are simply consistent competitors in the FIFA World Cup, but never true contenders for the title. There is simply no meritable argument for not paying these women equally when they are playing in equally competitive circumstances.
Why is this decision only happening now? How did this idea not occur to any leaders in the U.S. soccer community after the women’s team won any of their three World Cup titles? Its not as if there is much, if any, disagreement among leaders in the U.S. soccer community on this topic. As an avid fan and supporter of our women’s national team, it is frustrating to see that no person with knowledge of this issue has taken the initiative to address it. Because of that, it is very exciting to see this lawsuit finally be filed and hope for a positive change in the USSF.
Since the lawsuit was first filed by Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo, Landon Donovan and Alexi Lalas have joined in as well, calling for an immediate restructuring of the contracts of the women’s national team.
Hopefully more voices among the soccer community will also begin to contribute in defense for these women. Even individuals from the outside have voiced their support, most notably presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
On top of that, there are likely hundreds of thousands of fans throughout the United States who also back this movement.
I am sure that by the time the chain of events come to their conclusion, the USSF will have taken the appropriate steps to remedy this inequality.
That way, by the time the Rio 2016 Olympics come round this summer, we can cheer on our women’s national team as they compete for gold and are paid just as much as the men.