What's Next? The U.S. Women's National Team's Fight for Equal Pay

The U.S. Women’s National Team

The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) just celebrated a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, winning their fourth World Cup. This win broke their own previous record of most wins in the tournament’s history; Germany trails them with two total World Cup wins. But despite their record-breaking achievements, one glaring issue remains: the pay gap between the Women’s and Men’s National Teams. This has been a recent point of contention between the two teams, exacerbated by the fact that the USWNT generates more revenue, and has historically been more successful than the men’s team. In fact, the Men’s National Team has not won a single World Cup.

In 2016, members of the USWNT filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission against the United States Soccer Federation. Despite their higher level of success than the men’s team, the women’s team were being paid less across the board. One of their main frustrations was the disparity in generated profits between the two teams. The 2016 US Soccer Federation Budget Report projected that the USWNT would bring in more than $17 million in revenues, including a $5 million profit for the Federation, while the US Men’s National Team was expected to run a deficit of $1 million.

Three years have passed since this complaint was filed, yet the issue still remains. And it has not been forgotten: at the stadium in France where the USWNT won their fourth World Cup victory with a 2-0 win versus the Netherlands, cheers for their victory quickly turned into chants of “equal pay”. Megan Rapinoe, one of the captains of the USWNT, has used her platform to raise awareness of her team’s ongoing fight. Addressing this, Rapinoe said, “We can’t do anything more to impress, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better, to do anything. It’s time to move that conversation forward to the next step.”

This next step, adjusting the pay structure of the women’s team to match the men’s, seems straightforward. However, according to sports law expert Michael McCann, many elements factor into the pay structure of each team, each a result of separate collective bargaining agreements. But regardless of the technicalities, the issue remains that throughout the United States, women are paid on average 80 cents to a man’s dollar. This is not a new revelation, but the USWNT have now been given a global platform to promote change. In the ongoing fight for equal pay, the US Women’s National Team has set an example for all women across the U. S. to demand what they are owed.

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