Equal pay in US Soccer Federation, a historic agreement for women's rights

The women's national football team will receive equal pay
A long hard fight
Finally
What does it mean ?
How did the movement begin ?
But the men's team do better, right ?
Why did it take so long ?
How will it be shared?
Will other sports do the same?
Surely it can’t be that much different?
More interest in women's sport
Starting a trend - NBA
Starting a trend - Hockey
Starting a trend - Golf
Starting a trend - Football in UK
Rugby too
Time to change our mentality?
Level the playing field
Benefit to sport
The women's national football team will receive equal pay

Although all may seem a step backwards for women's rights these days, we cannot forget the groundbreaking deal struck by the US Soccer Federation on Wednesday 18th May. The US men's and women's national Football (soccer teams) will receive equal pay under a "historic" agreement announced.

A long hard fight

Female football players in the USA have been complaining to the US Soccer Federation and pressuring the union for years over equal pay.

Finally

The national women’s team has won a $24m payout and a promise from US Soccer to equalise pay for the men’s and women’s national teams in all competitions. This was declared in a monumental settlement that ends a six-year legal battle over equal pay

What does it mean ?

The deal states that players from both teams share the otherwise unequal prize money paid by FIFA for participation in their respective World Cups.

How did the movement begin ?

Five American stars led by Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan began the challenge with a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2016. Women sued three years later, seeking damages under the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

But the men's team do better, right ?

Certainly not in this case. The US women’s team has won four World Cups since the programme’s start in 1985, while the men’s team has not reached a semifinal since 1930.

Why did it take so long ?

The US Soccer Federation argued that nothing could be done about it because the prize money is set by FIFA; which awarded $38m to France for winning the 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia, but only $4m to the American women for winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

How will it be shared?

The agreement stipulates that $22m will be distributed to the players, while $2m will go into an account to assist them “in their post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girl’s soccer”.

Will other sports do the same?

The pay gap in sport has been increasing year-on-year. The difference in compensation between the top paid male and female athletes in major sports such as soccer, basketball, tennis, golf or baseball can be jaw-dropping, according to the world economic forum.

Surely it can’t be that much different?

Golden State Warriors player, Stephen Curry, was on track to make more than $40 million in salary alone during the 2019–20 season. In the same year, DeWanna Bonner, the highest-paid WNBA player, was eligible for a base salary of $127,500.

More interest in women's sport

Previous statistics showed that there was less market and public interest for female sport competitions, leading to the assumption that they generate less money. But a survey made by the Nielsen Company studied eight key markets around the world (U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia and New Zealand). They found that 84% of sports fans are interested in women’s sports. Of those, 51% are male, which confirms that women’s sports engage a gender-balanced audience.

Starting a trend - NBA

The Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) declared an increase of $75 million in capital from selling equity in the league.

Starting a trend - Hockey

The Premier Hockey Federation committed to investing $25 million into the women's hockey league in the next few years. This is to improve its overall positioning, competition and fan experience, with a significant emphasis on player’s salary.

Starting a trend - Golf

The US Golf Association will raise the prize money for the women’s open to $10 million this year and $12 million in the next 5 years – almost double the previous amount (world economic forum).

Starting a trend - Football in UK

The Welsh national football association has promised to introduce equal pay for their men’s and women’s teams by 2026.

Rugby too

Women’s football has arguably led the fight for equal pay, but there have also been notable changes in rugby recently. England’s women have risen to the top of the world rankings since fully professionalising at the start of 2019. This year, the Welsh Rugby Union offered women rugby players professional contracts.

Time to change our mentality?

These recent cases are a sign of real change in how some national governing bodies view women’s sport, for too long it has been thought “less than” the men’s versions and drastically underfunded.

Level the playing field

Many of the participants in an athletics study by Courtney D. Cameron said that they expressed extreme 'dissatisfaction about the way that women are viewed and treated as athletes' and how this impacts women’s experience of sport more generally.

Benefit to sport

Those making these decisions are social institutions – their decisions and financial support influence how society generally views sport. So it certainly can be said that this is good news for women’s sport more broadly. However, for many players and athletes, progress is slow and challenges still remain.

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