No doubt about it, the U.S. women’s national soccer team kicks ass. The U.S. team is currently the top-ranked women’s soccer team in the world (our men’s team is ranked 30th). The team's earned four Olympic gold medals — a feat no other soccer team (men’s or women’s) has ever achieved. On top of that, the team attracted over 26 million American viewers to last summer’s World Cup final, making it the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history.
The women allege, however, that they are not treated like the champions they are. Five of the team’s top players filed a wage discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on March 30. The team's co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and goalie Hope Solo allege that the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) pays them only 40% of what their male counterparts make.
The wage discrimination exists in several different areas, according to the complaint filed by attorney Jefferey Kessler.
First, prize money: When the women’s team won the World Cup in 2015, they earned $2 million in prize money. The men earned $9 million for losing.
The women also make less money per game, according to the complaint obtained by Revelist. When their yearly salaries and bonuses for wins are combined, the women would make $4,950 per game if they won every "friendly" match they've played. The men make $5,000 per game, even if they lose. That’s right — male soccer players still get paid more, even if the women’s team wins every single game and the men lose all of theirs.
That's not all though: Women are inexplicably paid less than men in daily allowances for travel games. Men are given $62.50 per day for domestic games, while women get $50. Men get $75 for international venues; women get $60.
"The numbers speak for themselves," Hope Solo said in a press release obtained by Revelist. "…The [U.S. men’s team] get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships."
In fact, the women do more than just win games — they generate revenue, too.
"The USSF financials show that the women's team generated at least $16 million in profit for the USSF in 2015, while the men's team generated a loss,” Kessler, the team's attorney, told Revelist. "…Nobody could credibly say they are not at least as valuable to the USSF as the men's team."
Kessler also said that the USSF has offered "no rational explanation" for the wage inequality. Instead, the federation recently filed a lawsuit against the women’s union to ensure they wouldn’t strike before the Rio Olympics.
"While we have not seen [the EEOC complaint] and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we are disappointed about this action," the USSF said in a press release obtained by Revelist. "We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years."
Hopefully this commitment to "building the women's game" includes paying them equally, too.