April 17, 2016

SCAZZERO | Combating the Pay Gap in Soccer

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It’s no secret that professional women’s sports teams are hardly treated with the same amount of respect as men’s. Women’s leagues have famously struggled to gain traction in the U.S. However, this past year was a banner year in making strides in the right direction for women’s teams. Most notably, the U.S. women’s soccer team made a huge splash among American fans when they won the World Cup. Following the championship, the country actually got excited about women’s soccer. It was a big deal. The women got their own parade and dominated the summer press. But apparently, even with all the attention they had garnered with their success, it was not enough for them to earn equal pay from the U.S. Soccer Federation.

A woman doesn’t have to be a world-class athlete to be deserving of equal pay, but their situation puts the whole dispute under a large spotlight. While on Today, goalkeeper Hope Solo spelled it out, “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 team generated nearly $20 million more in revenue than the men’s team in 2015, yet female players in the sport are paid almost four times less than men. It is almost unbelievable to see how much these women have accomplished and just how little they are being acknowledged and compensated for it just because they are women. A woman shouldn’t need to be literally the best in the world to have the right to ask for equal pay, but it seems ridiculous that these women, with their talent and success so clearly on display, are not being compensated properly for their efforts.

The fact that they put the same amount of dedication, time, and effort into this sport as the men, and then achieved as much as they have and still cannot get paid the same amount is gross discrimination. It is disheartening to think that this is the example we as a country are putting before our young women, that yes, you can do whatever you want and work as hard as you possibly can, but still not be treated with the same respect as a man.

To combat this, the U.S. Women Soccer’s Team filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month, in which they accused U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination. And in a sign of just how committed they are to seeing their demands are met, co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn stated that if the demands aren’t met, the team is considering a boycott of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. It’s a bold move, but in my opinion, a perfect one to send the message. Why should the U.S. revel in the women’s success while the team is treated unjustly?

As co-captain Lloyd said on The Today Show, “I think we’ve proven our worth over the years … Just coming off a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. We want to continue to fight. The generation of players before us fought. And now it’s our job to keep fighting.”

So fight they will. And I am glad that this team is putting this issue at the forefront. Hopefully their demands will be met before August, because although I completely support the reasoning behind it and respect that they are willing to make this statement, it would be a shame to not see those talented women out on the field.