As the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team celebrated its World Cup win with a parade last week, many people have been debating whether these athletes should be earning pay equal to that of their male counterparts.
We don’t believe the pay should be equal. If anything, in this case, the women should be making more money.
A week ago today, the U.S. women dominated the Netherlands and took home their second straight World Cup trophy. The U.S. men, meanwhile, have come nowhere close to that level of success.
Because the U.S. Soccer Federation employs both, it seems pretty obvious that there’s an glaring disparity here. The men’s team receives bigger bonuses when they win; the women do not earn the same amount for a similar level of success.
And the conflict is not just about the size of the checks. The women’s team also receives less money for things like facilities and medical care. Those things were part of a lawsuit the players filed against the federation in March.
Like most things, of course, this isn’t as simple as it seems on its face.
First, there’s the revenue argument. If the men’s team brought in more revenue, most people would consider that a solid argument against equal pay. That’s pretty common in sports. But here, too, U.S. soccer seems to be an exception.
However, much of the World Cup money comes from FIFA, the body that oversees soccer internationally. FIFA disburses money from television and sponsorships to national federations, and worldwide, the men bring in more revenue than the women. The men would get nearly twice the bonus that women did for making the World Cup team — if the men had qualified.
Another thing that’s tricky is that contracts are negotiated separately. And the women play in a national soccer league in addition to competing on the national team while the men just play on the national team, so it’s hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison.
That said, the U.S. Soccer Federation is a nonprofit entity intended to promote and elevate the United States on a global stage. That makes the question of equal pay here much more straightforward than it would be in the private sector.
We agree with the New York Times, which said the federation is “making a statement about America by treating those women as second-class citizens.” And it could make an even bigger statement by leading the way on pay equity. FIFA, too, has a long way to go in this area, but the United States should be a leader and could pave the way for progress.