Editor’s note: Today’s editorials originally appeared in The Seattle Times and the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.
Fresh off their World Cup victory, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team members are receiving a heroes’ welcome, complete with a New York City ticker-tape parade.
Fans were glued to the tournament from the team’s first game, an eye-popping 13-0 shutout against Thailand, riveted by team members’ joyful athleticism, unabashed self-assurance and integrity on and off the field. Nearly 15.6 million U.S. viewers tuned in to Sunday’s final match against the Netherlands. Here in Seattle, the victory was personal, with Reign FC’s Megan Rapinoe and Allie Long representing our region on the world stage.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke for many when he tweeted to the team, “You have inspired the entire country.”
The accolades are well deserved. But the Women’s National Team deserves more than congratulations and hearty handshakes: They deserve equal pay for equal work. The U.S. Soccer Federation must pay them what they are worth.
Despite the Women’s National Team’s No. 1 world ranking, World Cup winnings and recent pay increases, the team members take home smaller paychecks than their counterparts on the U.S. Men’s National Team. In March, they filed a lawsuit against the federation, arguing that even though their team’s excellent performance has generated “substantial revenue” and profits, the federation has neither compensated nor supported them equally to the men’s team.
Although the teams’ compensation policies are structured differently, a Washington Post Fact Checker analysis dug into the numbers this week using an apples-to-apples scenario: In a 20-game season, a player on the women’s team would earn $28,333 less than a male player — about 89 cents on the dollar.
The Fact Checker concluded, “When the female players have appeared to make about the same or more money, they’ve had to turn in consistently outstanding performances on the world stage.”
The federation has attempted to explain the pay disparity by arguing that men’s and women’s teams are separate organizations, and that pay decisions are driven by revenue. Whether those arguments would prevail in U.S. District Court is an open question. But in the court of public opinion, especially this week, the soccer federation’s rationale seems a flimsy excuse.
The federation should reconsider its position and decide this week to stand for equitable pay, giving soccer fans, and all of us, yet another reason to celebrate.
World soccer champs deserve praise, fair compensation
Congratulations to the United States’ women’s soccer team for winning the World Cup on Sunday, the second straight world championship for the team.
Yet, praise and popularity isn’t enough. The women’s team isn’t paid as much the men’s team.
On Sunday in Lyon, France, the introduction of French President Emmanuel Macron and FIFA Presidentt Gianni Infantino for the on-field trophy presentation was followed by boos and then chants of “equal pay.” The call for higher pay meshes with the U.S. team captain Megan Rapinoe’s campaign for more equitable prize money from the World Cup organizers and compensation from the U.S. Federation.
It seems, given the incredible success of the women’s team, players should be paid as much — or, frankly, more — than the U.S. men’s team.
Gender equality should, of course, be a factor.
That argument has been dismissed by many on the grounds that women’s sports does not generate as much revenue as men’s sports. Generally, that’s true.
But in this specific case it is the U.S. women’s national team that seems to be generating more revenue and, as the team’s popularity rises, the cash will continue to flow.
This makes the lack of pay equity wrong.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column sorted out the numbers and found that the women’s team is now generating more revenue, and has been for a few years as the team has won more games — and the hearts of fans.
The Post reported that in the year following the 2015 World Cup win, women’s games generated $1.9 million more than the men’s games.
When it comes to pay for being on the national team, women players are paid 89 percent of what the men are paid based on the agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
“Using the same 20-game scenario, we calculated the player on the women’s team would earn $28,333 less, or about 89 percent of the compensation of a similarly situated men’s team player,” according to The Post.
And the prize money for women is less — way less — than the men.
Sunday’s World Cup win earned the Americans $4 million in prize money to split among the team members. However, the French men split a pot of $38 million for winning the World Cup in 2018.
The revenue-to-prize-money ratio for women and men seems to be out of whack, particularly as the women’s game in the U.S. and the world is becoming more popular. This is why FIFA is doubling the women’s prize money for the tournament in four years.
Progress, yes, but too slow.
The U.S. women’s national team is earning more money for the U.S. Federation and FIFA and should be compensated accordingly.