On Sunday night, the U.S. Women’s National Team rightfully secured a third star, taking home the World Cup trophy and number one ranking. The championship match was the highest ever viewed soccer match in the United States and fans from across the world traveled from Vancouver to Montreal and back again, packing Olympic Stadium and BC Place Stadium to support their favorite team. Putting away five goals, the first four within the first sixteen minutes, the game almost seemed surreal for soccer fans who expected a technically superior and disciplined Japanese squad.
(Photo Courtesy: http://screamer.deadspin.com/uswnt-shock-japan-with-four-goals-in-sixteen-minutes-w-1715911776)
The 23 players on the USWNT are a combination of veterans like Wambach, Rampone, and Boxx and upcoming stars such as Julie Johnston and Christen Press. The variety of backgrounds, experiences and talent created a team accurately categorized by Nike’s “strong alone, champion’s together” campaign. Though the USWNT drowns in Nike sponsorships, and individual players also have contracts with other popular clothing, insurance, and miscellaneous brands, ironically, each player on the USWNT still receives considerably less than their male counterparts.
According to Politico, “the total payout for the Women’s World Cup this year will be $15 million, compared with the total for the men’s World Cup last year of $576 million, nearly 40 times as much.” In the National Women’s Soccer league, the pay gap is even more exaggerated as the salary cap for each team is $200,000 while in 2014 each MLS team has a salary cap of $3.1 million. And unfortunately, this gender gap extends much further than soccer. Only women’s tennis proves this argument false, as recent changes have secured equal prize money for winners at the four Grand Slam tournaments.
(Photo courtesy: https://cbsmiami.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/gettyimages-479604428.jpg?w=620&h=349&crop=1)
Highlighting the gender gap in pay for soccer in addition to the existing inequality all sports is not in attempt to take away from an incredible month of soccer and patriotism in Canada. The support each team received from its nation, especially the capability of teams such as the USWNT to unite their nation under a common goal justifies the strength and power of professional sports and athletes alike. However, the media coverage and extensive broadcasting coverage of the tournament has revealed the injustice of FIFA and its counterparts in other sports when it comes to paying women versus men. Sadly, it will take much more than published news pieces to come to terms with the gender gap in professional sports let alone the gender gap in other facets of life but hopefully the USWNT’s world cup win is a step in the right direction.
–Maclain Lehan, Intern