The US women won the World Cup again, solidifying themselves as one of the top dynasties of all time in the sport of soccer/football. In fact, there was not a single minute in the entire World Cup that the US team were losing.
In light of this dominance, a renewed argument sparked by the women on the team over equal pay to the men’s team has re-emerged, with many citing the success of the women and the coincident failure of the men as reason enough for closing the wage gap.
The equal pay argument, however, quickly gets muddled when you consider a few important points:
- In the US from 2016-2018, the women’s team has actually generated more revenue than the men’s team, by close to a $1million.
- In less developed nations, women’s soccer actually brings in increasing less and less of a percentage of what the men’s team brings in as revenue.
- FIFA actually pays out the women’s World Cup teams 13% of the revenue earned at their World Cup, and the men’s teams about 9%, suggesting that the the women’s teams actually have the upper hand in any revenue-to-wage debate.
In light of those 3 points, the argument gets significantly muddied. It is important that men and women receive “equivalent compensation.” But what does that mean? Women’s league teams simply can not afford to pay women at the rates that men are paid because they don’t bring in nearly enough revenue anywhere in the world. In the US, the women’s national team brings in more than the men’s, true, but the MLS, on the other hand, brings in about 15 times (or more) than the WMLS. In similar leagues throughout the world, the disparity is even larger. Furthermore, the US is the ONLY country where the national team brings in anywhere close to the men’s national team. FIFA makes more in revenue (and profit) on the men, but also presents a dangerous catch 22. The top performing women’s team (US) makes significantly more from FIFA than lower ranked teams. These lower ranked teams make less from FIFA, also make less from their respective pro/semi pro leagues. This, in a “man’s world” would be explained as a basis for competition. However, in many cases, the women’s teams around the world are unable to compete or promote better play, since players have more incentive to earn more money elsewhere.
Armed with these facts, I believe there are solutions to improving pay for women’s teams while also driving revenue from women’s teams higher. This solution can be investment from FIFA into the infrastructure of world team development, increase promotion of women’s events, and maintaining strict standards for rates of revenue diverted from FIFA and local leagues to the women who play in them, so that as revenue rises for women’s teams, wages rise proportionally.