Before anyone is too offended, let me begin by saying that women’s soccer players are very talented and deserve a fair pay for those talents, but fair pay and equal pay are not the same thing. It is amazing what the USWNT has done at the international level and they are all phenomenal soccer players and deserve to earn a fair paycheck based on that, but it is ridiculous to compare men’s and women’s soccer as equal.
Should the stars of the WNBA make the same as the NBA? No, and they know they shouldn’t. The NBA draws more fans in and their talents and athletic abilities are superior to those of the WNBA. That’s not a knock on women’s basketball because they are very talented athletes, but they cannot do what the men can do with a basketball so why should their pay be equal? The same goes for soccer. It is simply a fact that men are physically more gifted than women and that allows them to play the game at a different level, so how does that justify equal pay? In any other career, such as the business world, a woman can do anything that a man can do and they deserve to make equal if not more than a man if they are better at that specific job. But in the world of athletics men just play at a different level and they should earn higher wages.
The players who filed the lawsuit against U.S Soccer argue that they have more viewers than the men do and for that alone they should be paid equally. Unfortunately for them the numbers do not align. Yes, the women’s World Cup final against Japan drew a record number of viewers in the United States, but why wouldn’t the country support their national team in a World Cup final. In the 2014 World Cup, the men’s first round games against Ghana, Portugal, and Germany were viewed by 11,100,000, 18,220,000, and 10,800,000 English speaking viewers with an average of 13,374,000. The women had 5,043,000, 4,500,000, and 3,311,000 with an average of 4,285,000…not even close in terms of popularity. The men averaged 567,000 viewers for English speaking networks for all 2015 International Friendlies whereas the women averaged 333,000 for international friendlies. How does that scream equal pay? It is a fact that more people prefer to watch the USMNT play as opposed to USWNT. Even with the record 25 million who watched the women win the World Cup final, they still averaged 8,151,000 viewers for all 2015 World Cup games whereas the men averaged 14,156,000 for all of their 2014 World Cup matches. There is nothing equal about that.
If the USWNT want to make what the USMNT makes they need to start by promoting their professional league better. Most people do not even know there is a professional league. The National Women’s Soccer League had a highest attendance of 16,017, a low of 953, and an average of 4,804 during the 2015 season. Yes, it is a relatively new league but if they want to earn high wages like the men do, they need to start promoting their club teams and make women’s soccer popular every year, not just every four years. The MLS saw a highest attendance of 44,247, a low of 15,657 and an average of 21,574 during the 2015 season. The MLS has been around longer but that is a big factor of why they make more money! More fans stay up to date with the men’s players and they show that by supporting them year in and year out, not just when it is time for a World Cup.
Abby Wambach, a recent DUI recipient might I add, has publicly called out USMNT Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, saying he should be fired for “bringing in a bunch of these foreign guys.” Should a team be blamed for having a diverse squad? Shouldn’t every organization take pride in having a body of people who represent every race, including dual-citizens? Should the “foreign guys” who grew up overseas because they had a parent in the military stationed in Europe be labeled less American, and that be a reason for firing the coach? There is a double standard that now exists and their best shot at knocking the men’s team is saying they should fire their coach for having dual citizens. That is not the best way at trying to get equal pay.
The USWNT should earn a bump in pay for their recent World Cup title because that does a lot for the country and for their sport in general. But to say they should make what the men make is absurd at this point in time. Maybe in the future, if they can keep growing in popularity with viewers and they are able to promote their league better and bring in more fans on a regular basis, then the argument could be very valid, but until then it is nonsense.