UPDATE 5/26/16: The USWNT gained another ally in the fight for equal pay today, as the US Senate animously approved a non-binding resolution calling on the U.S. Soccer Federation to “immediately end gender pay inequity and to treat all athletes with the respect and dignity those athletes deserve.” (via Huffington Post)
This is a great first step in setting a precedent for equal pay across the United States, and goes to show that taking a stand and fighting for equal pay does pay off.
Today, the New York Times published a piece outlining an official complaint filed by five players from the U.S. women's national soccer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The complaint states that the U.S. Soccer Federation pays women-- current reigning World Cup champions far less than their male counterparts.
Five players-- Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe-- signed the filing, arguing that every player on the women's nation team is paid thousand of dollars less than the men.
Although it was only these five high-profile members that signed the complaint, Sauerbrunn Tweeted, "Five players signed the complaint, but the decision to file was whole-heartedly supported by the entire team. #equalplayequalpay#thegals.”
According to the filing despite the fact that women generated 20 million dollars more in revenue than the men in 2015, they still earn four times less than the men. If they make the World Cup roster, female players make just 44% of what their male counterparts earn in bonus earnings: $30,000 to $68,750. Also included in the filing is the requirement for women's and men's teams to play a minimum of 20 "friendly" games per year. However, while the women get a bonus of $1,350 if they win a friendly match, the men are guaranteed $5,000 even if they lose, and can make up to $17,625 if they win, depending on their opponent's FIFA ranking.
It's a complicated issue, some citing that revenue disparity is not accurate. Others saying that if pay should be revenue based, then it's important to address the discrepancies that happen from the gate-- like field disparities between teams. "You must ask yourself why the potential for revenue generating is less?" wrote one commenter. "Why isn't the revenue pouring in when you have the highest viewed soccer game period? There is more going on here than people just like men's sports better."
During an interview on NBC's Today show, Lloyd, the 2015 FIFA women's player of the year said, "I think that we've proven our worth over the years. Just coming off of a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large."
"I've been through numerous CBA negotiations, and honestly not much has changed,'' Solo told Matt Laeur. "We believe now the time is right because we believe it's a responsibility for women's sports, specifically women's soccer, to really do whatever it takes for equal pay and equal rights and to be treated with respect."
Laeur then raised an interesting question asking the four players who appeared on camera if they'd heard from any of the male players. It was met by uncomfortable laughter until Alex Morgan answered: "I'm sure they are in support of us. My husband plays professional soccer and he's very much in support of me." Lauer also asked the women if they were willing and prepared to boycott games or strike. The issue was skirted.
What unfolds will be interesting, potentially history-making, and serves as an important microcosm to address the pervasive sexism and wage gaps that affect all women.