Sports

Equal Pay for Equal Work: Inside the US Women’s Soccer team’s fight for justice amid FIFA gender wage gap.

Over the summer, the US women’s soccer team left the field with their third World Cup win to file a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, claiming that they were being discriminated against on the basis of gender. 

In March, all 28 players of the US team filed the lawsuit under what they describe to be institutionalized gender discrimination. Apart from their claims that their paycheck is significantly less than their malesoccer-playing counterpart, the team also believes that they are discriminated against with where they play, how they travel to and from, and their lacking access to sports medical treatment. 

During the gap between their lawsuit and competing in the World Cup, the team spent their time spreading the need for their cause amid their tournament preparations. Many of the team’s members spread the hashtag ‘#EqualPlayEqualPay’ to call attention to the gender discrimination the women were receiving. 

After their monumental win, the US Women’s team were, again, faced with gender discrimination. In the 2019 summer World Cup, the US team was awarded $4 million. Just half of this amount was given to the winning women’s team for the previous tournament in 2015. 

This is an improvement, but although there was an increase in the general award, there was still a significant difference in monetary gifts when it came to the men’s soccer tournaments. 

In 2019, FIFA awarded $30 million in total to the teams competing in the World Cup. At first, this seems like a lot of money, especially thinking that this amount has increased over the past few tournaments. However, for the men’s World Cup last year, FIFA awarded the competing men $400 million. 

With this appalling gap, Megan Rapinoe, star player and one of the captains of the women’s national team, called out FIFA on the eve of her team’s win. 

Rapinoe pressed FIFA for their lack of equal pay or equal care and attention between the men’s and women’s tournaments. In response to Rapinoe’s remarks, FIFA vowed to double the award money pool for the next women’s World Cup. Again, this sounds good and more fair at first, but this does not compare to the projected $440 million in the next men’s tournaments in 2022. 

Rapinoe urged FIFA to double the women’s pool for the 2019 games and double it again, or even quadruple it for the next games. 

Rapinoe also called attention to herself and her team by saying in an interview that she would not go to the White House if her team won the World Cup. This remark pressed Donald Trump, making him feel called to sub-Tweet the star player. 

However, the sheer mentioning of Rapinoe’s name gave her more of an audience for her cause. 

In the next few years before the next World Cup, FIFA promised to invest over $400 million into the women’s game. 

This year, they spent $28 million. 

Sources: BBC, FIFA, NBS Sports, New York Times

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