By Julia Rivera, Columnist
The U.S. women’s national soccer team has won four Olympic gold medals and three World Cups and stands as the reigning world champion. Despite this success, the women’s team players are not treated equally in relation to the U.S. men’s team players. Five members of the women’s squad – Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn – filed a lawsuit Thursday against U.S. Soccer’s governing body demanding equal pay.
The women are paid sometimes as little as a quarter of their male counterparts, depending on bonuses. The men are paid $5,000 for a loss, while the women receive only $1,350 if they win. According to the New York Daily News, the men’s World Cup championship bonus was set at $9.3 million, while the women’s bonus was $1.8 million.
The men have but a quarterfinal appearance in the 2002 World Cup to show for their last half-century’s travails. They won’t be in Rio for the next Olympic games, as they lost a qualifier to Colombia on Tuesday.
“We are the best in the world,” Solo said. “[We] have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships and the [men] get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”
Solo is right. The men are paid simply to show up. The women have not only trophies to show for their efforts, but also the support of an entire nation. Last summer, the women’s championship game was the most watched game in U.S. soccer history.
Figures from the United State Soccer Federation’s 2015 financial report show the women’s team generated nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men’s team. The nation has the team’s back, yet their own association doesn’t.
Sadly, this suit for equal pay is not the first time the women’s team has had equality issues. Last year, before the World Cup in Canada, a group of players led by Abby Wambach filed a complaint about the artificial turf playing surface, noting the men’s World Cup is played on natural grass. The turf issue reappeared during the World Cup victory tour when a game in Hawaii was canceled because the artificial turf was deemed unsafe.
“We want to play in top-notch, grass-only facilities like the U.S. men’s national team,” Morgan said. “We want to have equitable and comfortable travel accommodations and we simply want equal treatment.”
U.S. Soccer’s response, via a statement, said little more than that it has long been supportive of women’s soccer and that it was “disappointed’’ by the action taken by the players.
It’s truly shocking to hear the association say it was disappointed by the players. The players are fighting for one of many injustices they face as female athletes – this is considered disappointing?
What’s actually disappointing is the fact that after all this time, women are still paid less than men. U.S. Soccer claims to support the women, but has made no changes. Solo said she has been involved in countless negotiations with the league, yet there has been little done to ensure equal treatment of women.
Like the rest of us working women, these female athletes want what they deserve. But unlike most of us working women, they are the best in the world at what they do, so their case for being shortchanged could not be any more obvious.
Across the U.S., young girls, their little brothers, their parents, uncles and aunts adore the U.S. women’s national soccer team.
They are on target to win a fourth consecutive Olympic gold this summer in Rio. They are undoubtedly better than the men’s team, but aren’t treated like it.
Kessler said her team is “justified to ask for more” pay than the men, but equal pay is an “easy step” for U.S. Soccer.
Let’s hope the association recognizes the injustice they have put on the women and correct the mistake.