Bend it like Beckham

As we prepare to watch the Olympics in just a few weeks, my mind goes back to the news headlines in late March centering around the wage gap between the US men’s and women’s soccer teams. In case you missed the debate, below is a funny rendition from the Daily Show of what’s going on:

So, what’s the issue? Well, each member of the women’s national team earns $1,350 for each game they win and $0 for a loss. Meanwhile, the men earn up to $17,265 for a win and $5,000 for a loss. While these numbers do vary drastically, there is more to the story than meets the eye. For one thing, the salary and benefits structure for each of the teams varies considerably. The women earn an annual salary while the men are only paid per game that they play. If a male player is asked to sit out for a game, he will not earn anything. However, if a woman sits out, she will still earn her annual salary. Even still, at the end of the day, the men are consistently earning much more than the women. Some estimates even show that the women earn only 1/4 of what the men earn.

The biggest argument against this I have heard over the past several months is that the men bring in more revenue so they should earn higher salaries. This was true in the past, but now the tables have turned. With a World Cup victory in 2015 and a hopeful Olympic victory in August, the women’s team has generated millions more for the soccer federation than the men’s team. This is a trend that is expected to continue. According to the New York Times the women’s team is expected to bring in about $5 million in profits in 2017 compared to a $1 million loss on the men’s side.

Those are a lot of numbers, and there are even more that make this such a complicated situation. (Check out this Wall Street Journal article, if you’re interested).Who earns more? Who plays more games? Which pay structure is more fair? The way it looks is that in the past the women were generating far less revenue than the men, so it seemed fair that they were earning less. However, now that the women are clearly more successful and driving profits, they should be the ones earning more money. It is only fitting that they filed this dispute. If US Soccer wants to keep the best soccer players in the world they need to pay them fairly. They cannot argue that the men are more successful either in victories or revenue. While the previous pay structure and disparity may have been admissible in the past, now is the time for change. The US Soccer federation needs to keep up. And in case you want to keep up, too, the women will have their first game on August 3rd. We wish them luck (and also fair and equal pay!)


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