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Separate and Not so Equal — US Soccer

Nicki+Dugan+Pogue%26%23160%3BBecky+Sauerbrunn

Nicki Dugan Pogue Becky Sauerbrunn

Separate but equal. Well, maybe not.
After winning the 2015 World Cup, the US Women’s National Soccer team rode a wave of success to immense popularity. After being catapulted into the limelight, the women’s national team just filed an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In the team’s 2015 World Cup run, the squad set the record as the most viewed soccer event (domestically) in the history of US soccer. Despite the popularity, the women are still being paid just a fraction of the men’s salary. Historically speaking, this is understandable because of the market size; women’s soccer generally has been less popular than men’s. However, recent trends suggest that this appears to no longer be the norm. Currently, the men’s project revenue for 2016 is $21 million, while the women bring in about $2 million more, $23 million. But that gap is only supposed to increase. By 2017 the USWNT is expected to double what the USMNT brings in ($17 million – $9 million).
This isn’t the only difference between the two squads. While the USWNT only earns 37 cents to every dollar their male counterpart earns (far short of the national average 78 cents for female workers to every male dollar) during a victory, they also have a smaller per diem, less sponsorship opportunities, a smaller share of ticket revenue bonuses, and even worse field conditions. Even the Women’s 2015 World Cup was featured on turf, a big no no in the soccer world.
The problem the women’s national team has to overcome is perception. Men’s athletics are constantly labelled as “superior” to women’s, and scientifically speaking, women are smaller, slower, and weaker than their male counterparts. However, this is irrelevant with the current issue. In an entertainment industry, you should make money according to your market size of consumers. If this is the case, the women’s national team should make more than the men. Until the dollars say otherwise, equal pay should be the way. Having said that, it will be hard to receive a higher wage in the most popular sport in the world that is characteristically male dominated.
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So how do the current players feel about the issue?
“We feel we are fighting the right fight. We’re on the right side of history here,” said Becky Sauerbrunn. “So we have nothing to be too frightened about. But the whole idea of filing a complaint against your employer is a little … daunting.”
Similar to Sauerbrunn, many of her teammates hold the same exact sentiment. The entire national team is on board with the complaint addressed by a handful of players. Those include Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Sauerbrunn.
I feel like it is important to shift the times. To change history. And I really feel like that is what we are doing here. As Becky said, we are on the right side of history,” said the keeper, Solo. “You look back. Women used to not be allowed to vote. There are so many things that are shocking in our past. And I think one day we will look back and think it is shocking that women didn’t earn as much as men. We’re going to look back and wonder, why did we value women so much less?”
What’s next for US soccer? Honestly, it’s almost impossible to predict. The reality is, if this is separate but equal, then it’s time to pay up!