This week four highly respected players of the U.S. Women’s National Team and Hope Solo filed a wage discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, the governing body in ‘M(m?)erica. The women argue that while representing the country on the pitch they earn roughly 40% of what the men garner despite the fact they are vastly more successful. U.S. Soccer argues that the men generate more revenue though attendance and TV rights and testicular acreage (Ed Note: U.S. Soccer may argue this, but they've got a bigger issue here. The governing body's own data suggests that the distaff Nats will actually generate more profit over the next two years than their counterparts with external genitalia). Two plausibly reasonable arguments that might result in a bit of a shitstorm given the way the payscales of the two teams are vastly different.
In addition to qualifiers, both teams are obligated to play 20 exhibition “friendlies” per year for which the women are paid a base of $72,000 and a $1,350 bonus if they win. The men are guaranteed $5,000 and bonuses up to $8,000 for a win depending on the rank of their opponents. If the men beat Spain or Germany they make $18,156 while the women would make $4,950 for a similar victory. In other words, if the women win all 20 international friendlies they take home $99,000, if the men lose all 20 they take home $100,000. The women argue similar disparities in pay for competition play and even note a per diem discrepancy for national ($50 women/$62.50 men) and international duties ($60w/75m).
U.S. Soccer contends that the women collectively bargained for and approved this payout scale. The suit stems from the fact that this agreement expired in 2012 and U.S. Soccer contends a 2013 MOU extended it to which the union disagrees. I’m not a lawyer although I play one on two of my resumes and this case raises a number of financial, social and ethical questions. A few that come to mind:
Why would U.S. Soccer structure such disparate payscales for each team?
Is it true that the per diem discrepancy is because the men need to eat more food?
Do the U.S. Paralympic soccer teams have even lower per diems since they ostensibly require even less nutrition than the USMNT and USWNT?
Who are Rory and Joey Feek and why is my news feed continually spammed since one of them died?
Given that soccer is the only major sport in the U.S. where the men and women’s team each has a dedicated fan base (USWNT averages 12K attendees per game versus men’s 28K) does U.S. Soccer have any obligation to structure pay equality based on performance? Women’s soccer is relatively new with fewer teams, since it’s inception in 1991 the U.S. women have won three World Cups. The men are average at best and never will win the big Cup (Ed Note: Never is a long time. We made the quarters as recently as X years ago. I bet we win one in the lifetime of at least one of us.). As a biased fan of the women’s team I say, “give ‘em hell girls!” But seriously, some of the top sports headlines of 2015 included the USWNT, Serena Williams and Ronda Rousey. Equal pay for equal work and play might make us look a tad less troglodytic to future generations.
In case my wife stumbles upon this blog I think a handy is in order by someone other than yours truly.