Should the women's U.S. soccer team players be paid the same as the men’s?


Fact Box

  • The popularity and success of women's soccer in the US is due to President Richard Nixon's passing of Title IX on June 23, 1972, which granted 'equality of educational opportunities between the genders.' 
  • Statista reports that, as of August 2023, the US Women's National Team (USWNT) is the number-one leading women's national soccer team worldwide.
  • The US Women's National Team (USWNT) played its first game in Italy in August 1985. 
  • A 2019 The Hill-HarrisX survey revealed that 73% of respondents said 'the women's soccer team deserves the same pay as the men's team,' while 17% indicated they should be paid more.

Veronica (No)

Popularity, which generates revenue, plays a role in pay. Many jobs pay based on generated revenue. It's called merit-based pay. It's exceedingly common and not at all unfair. 

While the women's team has outperformed the men's team in recent seasons, the women's team has generated less revenue than the men's team. The women's team brought in $101.3 million over ten years and 238 games versus $185.7 million generated by the men's team over the same timeframe and 191 games.

The women's team refused a comparable pay-to-play scale like the men's team in favor of one that fit the team's preferences. Men's players are paid out only if they play and only on bonuses and prize money. The women's agreement, however, includes a $100,000 base salary for all players, whether or not they play, and includes benefits like medical, dental, and retirement plans.

Not including benefits, the women's team is paid MORE than the men's team since salary and bonuses amounted to $34.1 million for the women's team versus $26.4 million for the men's team. This equal base salary for all women's players inflates the overall cost of the team's payroll. If it were increased to match the men's team players who actually play, the payroll discrepancy would be astronomical in favor of the women's team, even though they don't generate as much revenue and also receive costly benefits.

Finally, both teams are paid based on contracts that are union-negotiated during collective bargaining. If either team has an issue with their current pay model, they should take up this with their union, not the courts.

Tyler (Yes)

Generating more financial revenue than the men's US soccer team, the women's team deserves to be paid equally if not more than the men's. The Wall Street Journal reported that through 2016-2018, the US women's soccer team (USWNT) raised $50.8 million, while the men's team (USMNT) brought in $49.9 million. However, a lawsuit filed by the USWNT alleged that if both teams participated in an equal-length season, the men's team would receive salaries of $150,000 more per player than the women's team. CNBC reported that the USWNT's 2019 World Cup victory received approximately three million more viewers than the men's World Cup in 2018. From a marketing perspective, the USWNT's merchandise is much more lucrative. The 2019 USWNT home jersey was the highest-selling soccer jersey in the United States - men included.

The USWNT's financial triumphs over the men's team can be correlated to the women's team's far superior performances in recent competition. The USWNT team has won four World Cup trophies in the past 30 years, most recently in 2019. On the contrary, the men's team failed to qualify for competition in the recent 2018 World Cup. While the USWNT has won half of the World Cup tournaments they have competed in, the men's team has yet to place in the tournament since 1930.

The US women's national soccer team's performance in recent World Cup tournaments and financial dominance over the men's team prove that they are being paid unfairly.

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