It happened mere minutes after Rose Lavelle sliced and diced her way through the Netherlands’ defenders and sent a dazzling left kick into the net, cementing the United States’ victory in the Women’s World Cup final. The crowd of nearly 58,000 began chanting “equal pay,” a two-word phrase meant to highlight the financial inequity between the men’s and women’s national soccer teams, and rightfully so.
With four world titles, the U.S. women are much more accomplished on the pitch than the men’s national team, which failed to even qualify for last year’s World Cup.
FIFA — international soccer’s governing body, which puts on the tournament every four years, paid the women players a $37,500 bonus for making the team. Had the men secured a spot in the tournament, they could have pocketed $68,750 — a $31,250 difference.
There is also a huge discrepancy in the amount of prize money awarded to the winners. The U.S. women’s team will receive $4 million. In comparison, last year’s French men’s team won $38 million.
However, the women’s team also brought in high ratings for Fox Sports, which broadcast the game. In fact, the American audience for Sunday’s World Cup final was 20% higher than the 2018 men’s championship game. Many of those viewers may remember the “equal pay” chant just as much as Lavelle’s silky smooth goal — which in itself is an injustice.
And yet the sad reality is — even in the 21st century — gender discrimination continues to be a persistent problem in this country. While pay gaps are certainly not new, this one sticks out like a glaring yellow card being flashed by a soccer ref after a blatant foul.
While the women’s national team cannot do much to influence FIFA to increase its payouts, its players have sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender and pay discrimination. The case, which is now in mediation, presents an easy opportunity for the country’s soccer governing body to do the right thing and make the pitch an even playing field for both men and women.