The United States women’s national soccer team put on a stunning performance in its 5-2 World Cup win over Japan on Sunday. You could even argue it was one of the best games in sports history.
But the women aren’t getting paid like it was.
According to The Guardian, FIFA will pay Team USA $2 million for victory in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a fraction of the $35 million the German men’s national team earned for its victory in 2014. On top of that, the total FIFA prize money available for the women this year was $15 million, a mere 2.6 percent of the $576 million available for the men.
And that’s still a step up from what women’s soccer was earning in the past.
“In the last four to five years, it’s been changing more than maybe in the last 10 or 15,” USA midfielder Megan Rapinoe said Friday, per The Guardian. “Since the last World Cup, we’re getting paid more, other teams are being paid more. FIFA is still doing crazy things like putting our World Cup on artificial turf, but I think the people with the money just need to realize there is money to be made in our game, and I think they’re seeing that now.”
And there definitely is money to be made in women’s soccer.
While FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke (validly) has claimed that the men make more because they bring the organization more revenue, per The Guardian, it’s still a huge, unsettling discrepancy. And what’s FIFA’s argument for that? That the men have played in more World Cups, of course.
“We played the (20th) men’s World Cup in 2014, when we are now playing the seventh women’s World Cup,” Valcke said in December. “We have still another (13) World Cups before potentially women should receive the same amount as men. The men waited until 2014 to receive as much money as they received.”
But why should the women have a quantified wait time, regardless of the records they’re setting in ratings?
The USA-Japan game drew 18.3 million viewers Sunday according to FOX, which set the record for soccer ratings in the United States. In comparison, this year’s NBA Finals drew an average viewership of 19.94 million.
And when it comes to women’s soccer, ratings in the United States should have an impact on the way FIFA perceives it. Team USA is a powerhouse, having won three of the seven Women’s World Cups, which is more than any other team. In fact, it has never placed lower than third.
And yet world soccer paid its women less than it spent on the film “United Passions,” which cost a reported $26.9 million to make and raked in a measly $918 in its opening week. The women have been subject to misogynistic comments from FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who once said the players should wear shorter shorts to make it more appealing. And in this World Cup, not only were they paid less, but they were forced to play on artificial turf and stay in the same hotels and use the same facilities as their opponents, something the men have never had to do.
At the end of the day, it’s a business, and the people who bring in the most money should make the most money. But at the same time, FIFA should be putting the work into aiding the rapid growth of women’s soccer, and spending more money on bad movies and relegating their games to secondary channels that viewers can’t find certainly doesn’t help.
Thumbnail photo via Erich Schlegel/USA TODAY Sports Images
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