I’m not going to lie, watching Allie Long of the U.S. Women’s National Team eat a page of the team’s ongoing equal pay lawsuit Wednesday on Instagram was probably the best thing I’ll see all week.
The World Cup-winning national team is still in a celebration fervor after dispatching the Netherlands on Sunday. It had only been three days since Rose Lavelle scored the winning goal to help her team clinch its fourth World Cup win, but the party was still going strong.
The women’s soccer team roared through New York City’s Canyon of Heroes on Wednesday for a ticker-tape parade, the players having exchanged bottles of water for $300 bottles of “Ace of Spades” champagne.
The scene online was chaotic and mesmerizing. World Cup Golden Ball winner and overall fearless warrior Megan Rapinoe was pouring champagne into her teammate’s mouths and then handing the bottles over to spectators. Aspiring girls soccer phenoms held up adoring signs, confetti rained down on the players and car horns honked while construction scenes came alive to cheer on the champs.
Behind the scenes, Ashlyn Harris was tearing up the USWNT’s lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) to use as confetti. Long grabbed hold of a page, looked into the camera and said, “Pay us,” before swallowing it.
It was a silly moment juxtaposing a serious time for the world’s soccer federations. In the USWNT’s case, it is suing the governing body for wage disparity with the national men’s team. Filed in March by all 28 members of the team, the suit shined more light on the monstrous pay gap between the USWNT and the USMNT three months before the women’s team went on to defend their World Cup title.
The USWNT has been demanding equal pay since it won the 2015 World Cup. In 2017, the team agreed to a collective bargaining agreement that brought them higher pay and better working conditions. Equal pay was still left off the table. The lawsuit filed in March has been ongoing, with the USWNT’s recent championship likely the final straw for a USSF with no more answers.
For context on the wage gap between the two national teams, the USWNT makes approximately $5,000 per game in comparison to $13,000 per game for the USMNT. The prize money for the 2018 men’s tournament was $400 million. This year, the women’s prize was $30 million.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup, which saw record-setting TV ratings around the world, will likely go down as the turning point in the fight for equal pay in international soccer. Those ratings will translate into dollars, a revenue stream of equal pay that naysayers have long doubted.
The Wall Street Journal found last month that “in the three years after the (USWNT) won the 2015 World Cup, U.S. women’s games generated more total revenue than U.S. men’s games.”
With that in mind and the recent win by the USWNT, it was no surprise that the clamor for “equal pay” was loudly voiced when USSF President Carlos Cordeiro took the stage Wednesday for the team ceremony. His words were drowned out by the chants, making it clear what the people want.
It doesn’t matter that the USMNT stinks up the joint year after year. It doesn’t matter that the USWNT has won four World Cups. What matters is this – the USSF has offered to double the women’s team salary, and it would still be just a fraction of the men’s salary.
It’s a problem. Fix it.
(Send comments or questions to email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @zacknally)