Sometimes, the call for pay equity is louder than others. The principle that the U.S. women's national soccer team ought to be paid at least as well as their male counterparts received a very loud endorsement from fans on Sunday. After the women's team won the World Cup for the fourth time, fans in the French stadium began chanting "EQUAL PAY!"
It has often been said that women have to work twice as hard to seem half as good as their male counterparts. That seems to be the case with the women's national soccer team, which currently makes less than the men's team despite garnering greater success and revenue.
The men's team hasn't won a World Cup yet. In fact, the women's team has been so much more successful that, between 2015 and 2018, the women played 19 more matches. Moreover, according to financial statements obtained by the Wall Street Journal, the women generated $50.8 billion in revenue between 2016 and 2018. The men's team brought in $49.9 million. Even the prize money is starkly gendered.
In other words, the women are working harder, more often and more successfully, and they're bringing in more revenue for the U.S. Soccer Federation. That may be why, in March, 28 women's national team members sued the Soccer Federation in federal court for "purposeful gender discrimination."
Lawsuit against US Soccer Federation to go to mediation
Not only did the 28 players allege pay discrimination, they also complained that the federation discriminates against women in medical treatment, working conditions and even playing surfaces, according to the New York Times.
The organization's "ongoing policies and practices of intentional gender discrimination extend beyond pay and into nearly every aspect of plaintiffs' and similarly situated WNT players' work conditions," reads the lawsuit.
The federation, however, points to a 2017 collective bargaining agreement the players signed. It argues that the men's and women's teams' pay and working conditions cannot be fairly compared because the men negotiated and signed a separate collective bargaining agreement. Furthermore, it says that FIFA, not the federation, is responsible for the gender disparity in prize money.
Now, the case will go to mediation, where a neutral, third-party mediator will attempt to facilitate a resolution. The mediation, announced in June, was expected to take place as soon as possible after the World Cup.
It's not every day that a crowd of admirers will burst out into a chant for workplace equity. Let's hope the public pressure will move the ball forward on equal pay.