USWNT Breaking Barriers for Equal Pay. Keep The Conversation Going.

It’s the last few minutes of the 2019 France World Cup final and the U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT) lead the Netherlands, 2-0. Megan Rapinoe bends the ball in the back of the net during a penalty kick and soon after, Rose Lavelle sneaks past a Netherland defender finding the goal. The referee blows the final whistle and yet again, for the second year in a row, the USWNT is victorious. As they gather to claim their trophy, fans in the stadium begin to chant “equal pay.” More than 20 million people are witnessing what has been a constant battle for the women’s team for the last four years, the women’s team lacking the proper paycheck.

In 2015, five of the biggest names on the USWNT roster sued the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) for not only gender discrimination but as well as the denial of “at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment.” Despite the fact that the women’s team can easily outmatch the men’s team in both athletic performance and revenue generation, the federation denied the claim at the time. 

However, following the recent World Cup victory, the USSF sent out a statement in response to this issue claiming that the women’s team will be paid in double, come the next World Cup. While this may be the case, the amount is still undeniably shorter than the 400 million the men’s team makes. A few days following the statement, the USWNT sat down with the heads of USSF behind closed doors to discuss the very matter. In a Good Morning America interview with midfielder Megan Rapinoe, she briefly explains how there was little to no progress during their mediation. 

“I think that if and when and ever they are willing to have a conversation about equal pay that starts there and goes forward, we’re always open to that,” Rapinoe said.

Due to this, the USWNT and USSF have a set court date in May of 2020, right before the USWNT head to the Olympics. 

Time and time again the USWNT have proven themselves as the superior team. Not only do their world rankings, which have been number one for the last decade, showcase their athletic abilities but millions of people travel to each game to watch them play. These fans bring in a great amount of income for the soccer federation. It’s because of this that I fail to understand why aren’t they getting paid what they deserve, and have earned, now rather than two years from now?

Unlike the men’s team, the women’s team has produced some of the world’s biggest female sports stars in the last decade. From Mia Hamm to Abby Wambach to Alex Morgan, these women have left their mark on and off the pitch and have helped lead the USWNT to victory time and time again. In addition, they have inspired and have been role models, even in their retirement, to countless young woman. 

Also, aside from the number of incredible women athletes that have risen to superstardom, they have not only qualified for the World Cup every year but have won four out of seven World Cup tournaments. Whereas the men’s team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. 

While it’s prevalent that USWNT is an all-around better national team, I find it quite interesting that the soccer federation fails to comply with the team’s demands while they continue to prove themselves. Not to mention, the women’s team found themselves under a microscope during the 2019 World Cup. They faced worldwide backlash for the same celebration behaviors that the men have displayed in past games. For example, the women’s team was called into question when they celebrated a goal against England by pretending to sip a cup of tea as well as taking their jersey off during a celebration.

I’ve grown up watching the USWNT play and they truly are a remarkable team. They not only train hard but they are dedicated to taking a stand for what they believe in. The USWNT continues to bring in new fans to the sport and it’s because of this that the soccer federation needs to wake up and see how valuable the USWNT is to the sport. 

This issue is about more than equal pay, it’s about rewarding the better team for how hard they’ve worked on and off the field regardless of sex. We now, unfortunately,  live in a day and age where women can be seen as the weaker sex, when in fact we are a bunch of badasses who have earned more than what the men have in recent years.

What continues to surprise me, is the fact that a majority of the soccer federation board is comprised of men who are dictating the future of women’s soccer. However, the USWNT has come out on top countless times and continues to prove to the world just how strong women can be on and off the pitch. 

I admire what they stand for and it’s so much more than just soccer. It’s women standing up for what they believe in and I think that’s powerful. 

Featured Image by Seth Wenig