Amid their dominance, the United States women's national soccer team has bolstered their reputation for going beyond on-field idol status to public agents of social reform. One of the biggest issues the team has tried to tackle is the wage gap between women players and their men's team counterparts. This has once again been pushed to the forefront following the recent Women's World Cup run.
After their 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the final, fans in France wasted no time reminding the world the USWNT deserves to be paid accordingly. Instead of continuing the routine celebratory cheers, the Stade de Lyon erupted into "equal pay" chants.
This is the cumulation of the U.S. women's national team's long fight against the US Soccer Federation. In 2015, members of the team sued the federation for gender discrimination. According to their grievances, the plaintiffs felt that the federation did not provide work conditions or wages that were comparable to the men's team.
That struggle is not limited to the U.S. The USWNT will only receive $30 million in reward money from FIFA after winning the tournament—double the last Cup's $15 million but massively less than the $400 million for men's team victors. USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe—who was also part of the 2015 lawsuit—condemned FIFA for this massive discrepancy.
"It's certainly not fair," Rapinoe said when asked about the earnings. "We should double it now, then use that number to double it or quadruple it for the next time. So, if you really care about each game in the same way are you letting the gap grow?"
Rapinoe and the USWNT are not alone in their fight. Celebrities have sided with the team, demanding that FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Federation, as Snoop Dogg put it, "pay them ladies" what they're worth.
Athletes in the WNBA have embarked on their own journey to establish congruent work environments and wages and get a bigger percentage of the league's total earnings. This has resulted in players embarking on a campaign to modify the way the WNBA distributes its revenue. That same message was echoed by Rapinoe, whose team actually generates more revenue money than the men's squad.
"I understand that for a lot of different reasons the men's game financially is far more advanced than the women's game," Rapinoe explained. "But, if you really care are you letting the gap grow? Are you scheduling three finals on the same day?"