Updated: Aug 15, 2022
After spending years idolising female football stars in the USWNT like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, it frustrated me to find that the male team continues to be paid more despite achieving far less.
In March 2019, the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation for gender discrimination and unequal pay. France earned $38 million as prize money from FIFA for winning the World Cup in 2018, but the women’s champions were to make £3 million in July 2019. That summer marked four years since the USWNT had been world champions. It was a year where they could win their fourth overall World Cup title (which they later did) and yet still get paid significantly less than their male counterparts.
According to the Guardian, the lawsuit stated that the men receive pay bonuses of $17,625. They report that this was almost twice as much as the women receive – for having wonzero World Cups and failing to qualify for the 2018 edition in Russia. Additionally, the lawsuit stated that US Soccer gave a team bonus to the men of $5 million for crashing out of the last 16 at the 2014 World Cup. Still, the federation awarded just $2 million to the women for winning the World Cup in 2015. The facts here speak for themselves, and they speak volumes.
This pay gap isn’t just limited to the United States team. Without income from national teams, image rights and commercial deals and sponsorships, a 2017 Sporting Intelligence salary survey found that the average basic annual first-team salary was 9,868% greater in the Premier League than in the Women’s Super League (the respective top flights of men’s and women’s football in England).
“The difference between the men’s and women’s prize money is ridiculous,” said Tatjana Haenni, who stepped down as FIFA head of women’s soccer in 2017. “It’s really disappointing that the gap between the men’s and women’s World Cups got bigger. It sends the wrong message.”
It was, however, inspiring to see so many role models take a stand and fight for justice. Since 2017, Norweigan Ballon d’Or winning striker Ada Hegerberg- arguably the best female footballer, has been on strike, refusing to play for her national team until the women’s and men’s teams play under equal conditions.
TAKING A STAND
The Australian players' union has called on Fifa to reward male and female players equally.
The Nigerian team staged a sit-in protest at a hotel in 2016 over outstanding payments after winning the Women's Africa Cup of Nations.
A 2018 deal in New Zealand led to the men's and women's teams receiving the same payments and equal prize money while representing the national team.
And the Dutch FA came to an agreement that will see commercial compensation for player growth, eventually matching their male counterparts between 2021 and 2023.
Nigeria and Arsenal forward Asisat Oshoala told BBC Sport: "This is a fight about the welfare of the team. It's about the way the team has been handled over the years."
On behalf of the Dutch players' council, Vivianne Miedema said, "we are very satisfied with the new agreements", which are a step "towards an equal appreciation for both men and women."