Today, the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) is set to compete against Netherlands in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup final.
This World Cup, 24 teams competed in France for their share of $30 million in prize money from FIFA — which is just 7.5% of the Men's World Cup prize of $400 million in 2018. The team that wins the World Cup on Sunday will split $4 million of these funds, but there's more than just FIFA money on the line in today's championship.
According to documents obtained by The Guardian, the USWNT's contract guarantees a player will receive $3,000 for each qualification game they win (since they won all five that's a total of $15,000); a $37,500 bonus for qualifying for the World Cup; $37,500 for making the final US World Cup roster; and $110,000 if they win the whole World Cup — a potential grand total of $200,000 each.
In contrast, had the U.S. Men's National Team (USMNT) qualified for the 2018 FIFA Men's World Cup, which the team did not, players would have received $108,695 each. Had the team won all of their 16 qualifying games, made the final World Cup roster and won the World Cup, USMNT players would have been paid a total of over $1.1 million each.
The USWNT's contract also reportedly includes an agreement that each player be paid $60,869 for a four-game victory tour, should they win the World Cup.
Women's team players received nothing for advancing to the knockout stages of the World Cup, while U.S. men's team players would have earned $329,376 for the same accomplishment, according to The Guardian.
This soccer pay gap exists despite the profitability of the USWNT. According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. women's soccer games have generated more revenue for the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) than U.S. men's games over the past three years, and according to Nike, the 2019 women's stadium home jersey is the top-selling soccer jersey, men's or women's, ever sold on Nike.com in one season.
In 2016, five U.S. women's players filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in March, 28 members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the USSF for gender discrimination and unequal pay. In June, The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, reported that USSF and the USWNT have "tentatively agreed to pursue mediation after the World Cup ends."
But the USWNT is not the only team fighting for equal pay.
Since 2017, Norweigan Ballon d'Or winning striker Ada Hegerberg has been on strike, refusing to play for her national team until the women's and men's teams play under equal conditions. SBNation's James Dator calls Hegerberg "the best player in soccer."
Since October 2018, Australian footballer's union Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has sent several letters to FIFA urging the organization to move towards pay equality. According to the PFA, even if the women's prize money pool continued to increased 100% each year, it would be 2039 before men's and women's prize money was equal.
The World Cup host country France's women's team is also fighting a sizable soccer pay gap. According to Le Parisien, the French women's squad is paid a fixed sum for each match and would have received 40,000 euro (about $45,478) each if they won the World Cup final. When the French men's team won the World Cup final in 2018, players were paid 370,000 euro (about $420,672) each.
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