Equal pay for equal play?

Wage Gap InfographicOn Sunday, July 5, 2016, the US Women’s National Soccer Team won the World Cup for the third time in history, defeating Japan easily in a 5-2 match, earning $2 million. However, this number paled in comparison to the men’s team, who earned $9 million after losing in the sixteenth round.

The pay gap between professional male and female soccer players has been a growing debate in recent years.  Do professional male players deserve to be paid more, overall, than professional female soccer players?   

“My main problem with the Women’s National Team getting paid less is that they are better,” said varsity soccer player Rachel Whaylen.  “If the men’s team brought in more money and were nationally recognized as the better team, then of course they should be paid more, but they aren’t!  The Women’s National Team brings in more money and they are ranked higher.  Of course they should be paid, if not equal to men, then more.”

In most cases, professional male soccer players make more money by simply showing up to a game than women do winning a championship.  According to the New York Times, male players make up to $17,625 if they win against a top opponent, and around $5,000 for a loss.  Women, on the other hand, earn $1,350 against a top competitor, and typically earn nothing for a loss or a tie.

There are several arguments as to why the pay gap exists.  Some say that fans simply do not care about women’s soccer as much as men’s.  Others claim that it has to do with sponsorships, and the overall number of fans.  Major League Soccer averaged 21,574 fans per game in 2015.  The National Women’s Soccer League averaged 5,046 fans per game.

“I personally believe that the pay is the way it is because women’s soccer isn’t very popular yet,” said varsity soccer player Alex Brooker.  “The men’s team has been around substantially longer.  Their fan attendance is a factor of their pay because men’s soccer, on the other hand, is super popular and the fan attendance is high.  Also, more sponsorships are available, allowing the men to be paid more.  Once women’s soccer gets up to speed I believe the gap will decrease, and eventually become equal.”

The Women’s National Team made more in revenue than the men’s team last year.  Their 2015 World Cup match brought in over 20 million viewers, making it the most watched soccer game ever in the United States.  After their 2015 World Cup win, five players on the US Women’s National Team filed a wage-discrimination action against the US Soccer Federation in an effort to make a change and earn equal pay for professional female soccer players.  They are still waiting for a ruling, but until then they are going to continue to stand up for equality.

“The women’s team has done so well over the years, it doesn’t seem right to pay them less than the men’s team, who [haven’t] done as well,” says varsity girls soccer coach Thomas Moore.  “Women have won three world championships and three world cups and the men have won zero and they still get paid substantially less.  This seems unfair at the very least.”

Photo from U.S. Soccer/Google Images