On March 31, 2016, five prominent players on the US Women’s Soccer team filed a wage discrimination complaint against the US Soccer federation. After trying to negotiate with the federation for equal wages and bonuses for years with no result, players Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn took their issue to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As Lloyd said in an NBC interview, “We’ve proven our worth over the years.” With the #1 ranking in women’s soccer, four gold Olympic medals, and three World Cup wins, the incredible talent and strength of the US Women’s Soccer Team is undeniable. Despite their wild success, the wage difference between the men and women’s teams is unbelievably high.
From their yearly “friendly” matches to international competitions, the file states that the women’s team was paid less than 40% the amount of the men’s team despite having more success and revenue. A great example is the World Cup games. In the 2014 tournament, the US men’s team was knocked out of the World Cup, ending in 11th place. The team won $9 million dollars for this “feat.” The US women’s team won the World Cup last year and their game racked up 26 million views –the most in all of US Soccer history. To much surprise, the team took home only $2 million. It was no exaggeration when Hope Solo said “the numbers speak for themselves… [The men] get paid more to show up than we get paid to win major championships.”
Unfortunately, this is not simply an issue for women in soccer, but for all female athletes. Carli Lloyd said she is tired of female athletes “being treated like second-class citizens.” More often than not, female athletes have been treated as subpar compared to their male counterparts regardless of how successful and powerful the women are. Recently, Raymond Moore, former CEO and tournament director of the tennis BNP Paribas Open said that women players “ride on the coattails of men” and are “lucky” to be playing the sport. What is more disappointing is that Novak Djokovic, one of the number one male tennis players, agrees with Moore, adding that players like him have paved the way for women athletes. Powerful women like Serena Williams, Hope Solo, and Gabby Douglas prove this idea otherwise. This degrading attitude towards female players has been around for too long. The women’s team lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, says when the team tried to negotiate with the Soccer Federation, they called the women’s demand for equal pay “irrational.” Lloyd adds that the US Soccer Federation treats the women’s team as if “we should be happy that we are professional players and not working in the kitchen or scrubbing the locker room.”
All of their talent, dedication, and hard work that go into their game are completely unrecognized simply because they are female. This is not a money issue. As Lloyd writes in her essay, “It’s about doing the right thing…it’s about treating people the way they deserve to be treated, no matter their gender.” It is the fight for future players, like the many young women at St. Ursula Academy, to have the right to equal pay and equal treatment.
Alex Morgan writes, "It's time for U.S. soccer to truly address the inequality and do what is right." Share the movement for equality with #EqualPlayEqualPay.
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