Why The Women’s National Soccer Team Deserves More Than The Men

News broke on March 31, 2016 that members of the United States Women’s National Soccer team filed suit against the US Soccer Federation on the basis of wage discrimination.  Their attorneys, the law firm of Winston & Strawn, filed the suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of the women, seeking fair compensation in-line with what the male national soccer athletes make.

The filing, points out that the women brought in $20 million more than the men in 2015 and the women were paid considerably less – almost four times as less.

Think about that for a minute.  Your daughter, your wife or someone you know goes out and busts her butt in training all year and wins the World Cup – yes the women won the World Cup in 2015 (while the men finished 1-2-1 in the 2014 World Cup) but yet the ladies got paid four times less.

To put that into numbers here’s an ESPNW.com breakdown:

“Among the numbers cited in the EEOC filing are that the women would earn $99,000 each if they won 20 friendlies, the minimum number they are required to play in a year. But the men would likely earn $263,320 each for the same feat, and would get $100,000 even if they lost all 20 games. Additionally, the women get paid nothing for playing more than 20 games, while the men get between $5,000 and $17,625 for each game played beyond 20.
Also greatly disparate, according to the figures, is the pay for playing in the World Cup. The U.S. women received a team total of $2 million when it won the World Cup last year in Canada. Yet when the U.S. men played in the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, the team earned a total of $9 million despite going just 1-2-1 and being knocked out in the round of 16.”

Winston & Strawn’s co-chairman Jeffrey Kessler came out with guns blazing in support of the players, “The reality is that this team is more valuable to the USSF than the men’s team has been. That’s what the facts show. And they would be justified in asking for more than the men are receiving. But the first step that they are seeking is equal treatment. That should be an easy step for the USSF to take.”

USWNT goalie, Hope Solo appeared on the “Today” show to defend the USWNT’s suit and said, “we are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships, and the [men] get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

The women aren’t alone.  Tim Howard, the US Men’s National Team goalie is in support and former USMNT captain Landon Donovan rang his support because he knew what it is like to feel underappreciated and undervalued.

Solo also told “Today” “I’ve been on this team for a decade and a half, and I’ve been through numerous CBA negotiations, and honestly, not much has changed,” Solo said. “We continue to be told we should be grateful just to have the opportunity to play professional soccer, to get paid for doing it.

“In this day and age, it’s about equality. It’s about equal rights. It’s about equal pay. We’re pushing for that. We believe now the time is right because we believe it’s our responsibility for women’s sports and specifically for women’s soccer to do whatever it takes to push for equal pay and equal rights. And to be treated with respect.”

USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann earned a salary of $2.5 million in 2014 that escalated to $3.2 million according to the Washington Post.  This is the same coach that finished 1-2-1 in the 2014 World Cup.  Also during that time the US finished fourth in the Gold Cup, a result that was embarrassing and the worst finish in 15 years.  For all the hype surrounding the announcement of Klinsmann and subsequent firing of Bob Bradley, who to this day I still think got a raw deal, he has managed to earn lots of money, take the team nowhere and be unable to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup as well.

On the flip side of that, USWNT coach Jill Ellis earned a base salary of $215,000 heading into the 2015 World Cup.  After winning the Cup, she earned bonuses but I can’t imagine her salary came anywhere close to Klinsmann’s even after the bonuses.  However the USF re-signed Ellis to a new contract extension in August 2015 with the terms not being released. I can only imagine this stands to reason that those terms were kept in house so the salary differentials could not be put on public display.  Prior to the World Cup win Ellis earned 10 times less than Klinsmann but was able to win a World Cup.  Klinsmann still has yet to win anything on the world stage other than the Gold Cup, which former coach Bob Bradley won once and finished runners-up twice.

I’ve thought about this topic for a long time.  I’ve felt the women’s team, and other women’s teams, have gotten disrespected for years.  The men’s team gets the credit, the cameras and the magazines – not to mention the money.

It’s much like the National Women’s Hockey League which is a whole blog on its own. Recently I tried to find the NWHL’s end of season championship game on TV.  The four teams, Boston, Buffalo, Connecticut and New York play for the Isobel Cup.  But good luck finding any sort of coverage of any of the league other than on the website, which is a sad commentary on women’s sports.  How can it be that women’s sports can be put on the back burner?

Look at the $20 million dollars and the World Cup that the USWNT brought in.  How can you argue with that?  Jill Ellis brought that in, not Jurgen Klinsmann.  Hope Solo did that not Tim Howard.  We need to take a step back and be better not only for the women who play these sports and for ourselves, but for the young girls who look up to these women. Ultimately they are the ones that are the dreamers and they are the ones that are going to be there one day living their dream.  We tell children they can do anything they want they just have to follow their dream.  Sure little boys can play sports when they get older, but not every little girl can.  It’s time to change that and it’s time to make sure that just like men, women can make a living doing it too!