No, not another World Cup title, but following their impressive 5-0 win to Iceland in the “SheBelieves Cup,” the U.S Women’s National Soccer Team scored a significant win off of the field. The success comes following their extensive fight for equal pay for women and has brought attention to substantial pay discrepancies between female athletes and their male counterparts. The team, who sued their employer, The U.S Soccer Federation, for gender discrimination back in 2016, won their lawsuit for $22 million on February 22, 2022. Although this lawsuit was a win, it does not mark the end of the fight for equal pay, as the pay disparity goes far beyond professional sports.
The lawsuit comes after a long battle with the U.S. Soccer Federation. When the USWNT's contract ended in 2017, they fought to ensure they would be receiving the same contract the men signed. The issue comes in significant differences in the men's and women's contracts. The main problem is how the players get paid. Some women receive salaries, regardless of the games they play, but no player's on the men's team do. The main issue that solidified the USWNT to win their discrimination lawsuit was the bonuses offered for a World Cup win. The USMNT receives a $2.5 team bonus for qualifying to the World Cup, while the women receive less than half ($750,000). During the Cup qualifying games, the women get paid $3,000 per player, while the men earn up to $18,125. The pay discrepancy is not only present with the U.S. Soccer company but also with FIFA, the global soccer governing body and the organizer of the World Cup tournament. In the 2019 World Cup tournament, FIFA offered $38 million to the men's team that won and only $4 million to the female team. The USSF offered $18.2 million in additional bonuses for the USMNT, while offering no additional bonus to the USWNT.
While the USWNT's lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation recently was a success, it does not mean that the equal pay issue is solved. Women make much less than their male counterparts, including basketball, golf, softball/baseball, and numerous other sports. This problem even exists across most careers, including male pilots making 26% more than females, professors, social workers, taxi drivers, and most entertainers. The fight for equal pay is not over, and everyone must raise awareness to fix this issue. USWNT star Megan Rapinoe described the lawsuit as a "monumental win for women's sports." The women of the USWNT are powerful role models, and hopefully, their message of ending gender discrimination will reach every industry and motivate every woman to speak up for their rights.