Is the U.S. Woman's Soccer team paid less based on gender? Its a close call.
I have written a few articles and given my two cents to local reporters when it comes to pay disparity between men and women. Overall, there appears to be a pay disparity between men and women in the workplace. One could argue a few outliers for the pay disparity which includes working mothers that may not work quite full-time in order to drop kids off or pick them up from school or daycare or mothers that take time off for maternity leave or to raise children or mothers that don’t work full-time because their husbands work full-time and they take on jobs just to raise a few extra dollars on the side.
There is one main case study here that has been getting extra notable attention where none of those factors come into play. Professional soccer. A few days ago the woman won the U.S. World Cup. Now, please understand, the argument isn’t because the women went farther than the men that the women deserve more money than the men. It has nothing to do with the game success of each team. It has everything thing to do with the economic success of each team. This is why there is no argument for women basketball players and men basketball players.
The market decides who gets paid more. If the market favored women more, then the argument should be that women should get paid more in professional sports. Here in the U.S. our top fanatic sport is not Soccer, it is American Football, then Basketball, Baseball, that is where we pay all of our dimes. The U.S. does not get behind soccer as other nations do. As a result, most of our top athletes go for the big-paying sports. Our leagues and teams on the men and youth side focus on the big-paying sports. However, on the women’s side, soccer has always been a dominate and top sport for females.
The U.S. woman have dominated on the U.S. Soccer side for decades dating back to the Mia Hamm days. Mia Hamm was the top female athlete idol for females and so half the U.S. population had a top athlete on the female side they looked up to. Since our men's team has never done anything to really get behind in recent memory, when the dominant womens’ team plays the world cup, almost the entire U.S. market gets behind the women’s team.
So now we look at the numbers. (At least the numbers we have publicly to compare) According to inc.com the women's team brought in $50.8 million compared to the men's team that brought in $49.4 million. (The article claims woman should be paid more but doesn't give a lot more argument than the facts noted here) A recent class action lawsuit was just filed on behalf of the women for that very problem. According to the Washington Post The U.S.Soccer Federation had a total revenue of $101.4 million. Half was from sponsorships and a quarter from games played. It is hard to track the money on who bought in what money though. However, the US Women’s jersey was the number one soccer jersey sold on nike.com .
It notes that the women's team bought in a net revenue of $ million and $ million. The men’s team generated a net revenue of $350,000.00 and $2.7 million between 2016 and 2017. The lawsuit notes that if both teams paid 20 friendlies a in a year, the top-tier women’s team would earn $164,320 or 38% less of a similarly situation men’s team. It is hard to know who is making what each year for each team and where the money is going. But it is a closer call than any other sport to make a claim that pay is unequal simply because of gender. In general, the Woman’s World Cup does not generate as much cash as the Men’s World Cup.
However, a woman’s team that is now dubbed the best in the world compared to a men’s team that has always struggled to qualify for the World Cup let alone be a contender with a U.S. market that favors the woman’s team compared to the men’s team raises eyebrows on whether or not the pay disparity is real.
Some say that both the men and woman should be paid equally. A lot of the pay also has to do with each separate union agreement of each and the union agreement can determine the cap amount for each player which is why there is a pay disparity between football and NBA players. So it may be a tough call to determine whether or not the pay disparity is based on gender or based on performance.
The union agreement could also mean we are comparing apples and oranges based on what each party agreed to. In the end, the pay should be determined based on how much revenue each team brings in. Some people go as far as to say that the woman should be paid the same as the men in the world cup. I wouldn't go as far as to say that. Again, it comes down to revenue. The woman should be paid the same percentage of revenue purse the cup brings in as compared to the mens. It could be though that the woman are already getting paid a higher revenue percentage than the men though.
At this point, this sport is the closest call we have had so far on whether or not the money is actually tracking success and revenue or if it is unlawfully tracking gender. However, if the collective bargaining agreements determine pay, then each party and team, no matter the gender is bound to the terms of the agreement on what they found as fair pay. The question was the pay for men under the CBA agreement higher than the women's because of gender? If so, there could be a claim. The woman would have to show that the CBA agreement was based on gender and not on revenue. I don't know what settlement talks were like and don't know if the U.S. Federation was hard-nosed on the woman's pay and wouldn't budge and was more flexible with the men's pay, just solely based on gender.
They could lose if the spreadsheet shows otherwise on who really brings in what amount or if the U.S. federation could show it was based on the men's potential and performance at the time the CBA was singed. The woman could win if they could convince a judge or jury that it was based on gender and not revenue. Even if the woman do not win their suit, there still may be enough there to However, So it may not be enough for a lawsuit if that's the case, but it is definitely enough to go on strike or renegotiate the CBA for the women's team when the time comes.