In the world of international soccer, the U.S. Women’s National Team are arguably one of the best the United States has seen.
Last year, the USWNT won the World Cup in a 5-2 victory over Japan. The U.S. women have also won three total World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals.
Despite the accolades and accomplishments, the salary for members of the USWNT are far below their male counterparts, which is why Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn of the U.S. women's national soccer team filed a wage-discrimination action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the U.S. Soccer Federation.
The 96-page lawsuit filed Thursday describes wage discrepancies between the U.S. Women’s team and the U.S. Men’s National Team.
In the wake of the wage-discrimination lawsuit, politicians, coaches and players alike have weighed in on sexual discrimination and the impact women’s soccer has made on a nation.
“As the father of three daughters and a coach of high school girls for a long time, this is something you can’t ignore,” said Statesboro High School girls soccer coach Brian Thomas. “Hopefully, it will result in girls and young soccer players striving for equality. I guess if you look on the side of the men’s team, they may sell more apparel or tickets, but you can’t argue the level of success the women have obtained.”
However, projected revenue numbers for USWNT and USMNT in 2017 may be a surprise to many. U.S. Soccer recently released financial details at a collective general meeting that projects the women will generate $17.6 million in the 2017 fiscal year. The men are only projected to bring in an estimated $9 million.
In terms of salary, a top player on the USWNT can earn up to $72,000 playing in 20 exhibition games and can make up to $99,000 with bonus incentives. USMNT players can earn up to $263,320 if they win all of their games, according to the EEOC complaint.
Playing surfaces also make a difference. In the 2015 World Cup, women’s players played on artificial turf while every FIFA-sanctioned men’s match got played on natural grass.
“In terms of pay, I think we have to take a long hard look at that. Sometimes they play on poor surfaces. The Men’s World Cup would never be played on artificial turf,” Thomas said. “The women train just as hard. I think it’s great this is being brought to the forefront and for fans and the media to discuss this. The more we talk about it, the more it can help the sport.”
Southeast Bulloch soccer coach Kristen Barnhill has built a reputation as a fiery, competitive coach. During her tenure at Maryland as the women’s soccer goalkeeper, Barnhill led the ACC in saves and saves per game in 2003.
Barnhill said she experienced some gender bias compared to the men’s soccer team at Maryland.
“As far as equipment and things, we all got the same. The athletic department made sure of that. But the boys team was always promoted more and they got to play in primetime on Saturdays. The marketing department would always promote those games,” Barnhill said. “The men were better than us, so clearly, the better rankings had something to do with it. But as far as fairness, the media perceived the men’s game as better.”
Barnhill said equal pay for the U.S. Women’s Soccer team may not be fair to the women. Rather, the former Terrapin goalkeep said both men and women should collect a percentage of the revenue they bring in.
“It seems that the women’s soccer team have surpassed the men. If the women are bringing in more revenue, but only making half as much, that doesn’t seem right to me,” Barnhill said.
The EEOC will conduct an investigation and determine if its findings warrant compensation to the U.S. women's team.
U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said he wanted to get an “agreement done” by January of 2017.