The 2019 Women’s World Cup rages on in France, as the group stage wraps up and the playoffs set to begin soon.
The United States currently holds the top spot in Group F with two wins and has already qualified for the “postseason.” In the Americans’ two group matches thus far, the team has outscored and outshot their opponents (Thailand and Chile) 16-0 and 66-3, respectively. It’s safe to say the U.S. Women look like the team to beat at this world cup. Again. The United States has sustained continued success since women’s soccer took the world stage.
Outside of this world cup, the USWNT has claimed three other world cups (1991, 1999, 2015) and four goal medals (1996, 2004, 2008, 2012) in the summer olympics. Keep in mind, women’s world cup and women’s soccer at the olympic games both started in the 1990s.
Despite all the accolades, triumphs and international success, the women’s team is paid less than the United States Men’s National Team. Back in March, the U.S. women’s national team filed a suit in federal court. The complaints centered around unequal pay, and part of the lawsuit points out the differences in pay between the men and the women. In the lawsuit, a comparison of pay displayed that if the men’s and women’s national teams each played 20 friendlies in a year, and both won all 20, female athletes on the USWNT would earn a maximum salary of $99,000, while male counterparts would earn around $263,320. Doing the math, the women would earn around 38% that of the men’s team. The lawsuit continues that during the last world cup the USMNT participated in (Brazil 2014), the men were provided performance bonuses of $5,375,000, exiting the tournament in the Round of 16, while the women earned $1,725,000 for winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup. That’s over three times less for the women to win the trophy than the men to fall in the Round of 16.
A look into the USMNT’s history does not bode well for why this pay disparity is occurring. The American men do have six CONCACAF Gold Cup titles since 1991, and most recently won the cup in 2017. However, outside of this, the men’s squad has not had success outside of North America. In world cup, the United States took third place in 1930, which was FIFA’s first-ever world cup. Since then, the Americans have never made it out of the round of 16 and have only qualified for nine of the 20 world cups played thus far. In olympic competition, it’s also not pretty. Since 1956, the U.S. men have never advanced beyond the group stage and have only qualified four times, taking part in three (the Americans qualified but boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics held in Moscow). Currently, the state of the men’s national team remains bleak. They failed to qualify for the most recent world cup (Russia 2018) and have struggled this year against some of their North and South America competition (Jamaica, Venezuela). USA’s group stage play for the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup is underway as title defense is on the line.
After a brief look at both the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams history, it becomes clear the women have had more success than the men. The teams’ payments should more accurately reflect the performance on the field. The women’s national team has significantly contributed to the development of women’s soccer both in the United States and around the world. The team has elevated the game and, perhaps, strengthened its competition in doing so. Let’s start paying these hard-working and talented women what they deserve.
Turning our attention back to the women’s world cup, the USWNT’s lone remaining group match is Wednesday against European power Sweden, who the Americans are quite familiar with. In 2016, the Swedes upset the U.S. in the quarterfinal round, winning on penalty kicks at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in Brazil. You best believe the USWNT is ready to put that ugly defeat behind them as they set their sights on a fourth world cup championship.