This editorial was originally published in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin:
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 President 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.