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USWNT Sues for Equal Pay For Women's Soccer

Updated on July 8, 2019
Victory for the USWNT in 2019!
Victory for the USWNT in 2019!

Why are men paid more than women soccer players?

As a guy, I was not interested in the US soccer team until the women blasted onto the scene with stunning success way back in 1999 or so. Whether their performance was in the Olympics or the U.S. national team, I became a solid fan. The women brought soccer home to America and made it "America's Team", not the men's national soccer team. I mean, they clearly are celebrities and deserve equal pay.

The equal pay issue is going to court and while everyone on its face would agree women players should get the same pay as men, there are numerous nuances to why it does not happen and all are linked to the organizations contracts made with US soccer league via their player unions.

What Do the USWNT Members Earn?

Their maximum salary is $99,000 or $4,950 per game, if the team played and won 20 exhibition matchups. The men’s team would earn $263,320 ($13,166 per game).

However, the individual salaries vary considerably:

  • Goalkeeper Harris on the women's team will earn between $300-400,000
  • Other less known players earn $150,000
  • Alex Morgan earns close to $1 million

The higher paid players, like in any sport, receive very lucrative endorsements that makes them big money. But, pay discrepancies from winning the World Cup are huge. If the USMNT wins the World Cup (they lost to Mexico) they earn $1 million, while the USWNT earns just $200,000!

Part of the difference is reflected in FIFA, which is rather sexist. In 2018, France earned $38 million for winning the World Cup, while the USA earned just $4 million for winning it in 2019! The USWNT in 2015 earned even less, $2 million, for winning it!

The USWNT out performed the men's team in terms of revenue generated with $8 million, while the men's revenue was just $3 million. Despite the obvious unequal pay, the two US national teams have different bargaining agreements and pay schedules each agreed to in collective bargaining. Their pay structure is also different, for instance, the women have a base salary for contract players and a different one not under contract. They get paid bonuses for play. The two teams play a different number of games and earn different amounts for specific tournaments, which are not part of FIFA. The men players are only paid when they play, while the women are guaranteed pay whether they play or not.

The total prize money for the Women’s World Cup in 2019 is $30 million, the US champions will walk away with about $4 million. For contrast, in the 2018 Men’s World Cup, the champions won $38 million. FIFA controls the money in the World Cup series, not the US National Soccer Fecderation.

Bottom Line

This is a no brainer with a lot of nuances. While the US can control or demand equal pay for equal play for their two national teams, FIFA can continue to be sexist and award more money to men's soccer. Women should earn the same as men soccer players, but play bonus and endorsements for specific players should be excluded just like with any professional sport.


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