Merit Should Count For More

Jimmy Yates ‘21

All 28 members of the U.S. women’s soccer team including veteran players Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Carli Lloyd have filed a gender lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The lawsuit, filed three months before the women’s World Cup this summer, is one of the first steps of action taken by the women in their ongoing battle for equal pay and against gender discrimination.
“It is wrong for us to be paid and valued less for our work because of our gender,” U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn stated to the L.A. Times. “We are standing up now so that our efforts, and those of future U.S.Women National Team players, will be fairly recognized.” The players’ intent is not only to receive more money for their hard earned success, but to also set a precedent of equal pay and treatment for the future generations of women’s sports.
U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cardiero said he was “surprised” that the women filed the suit. “We believe the current agreement is fair and equitable,” said Cardiero. It hardly seems controversial that Sauerbrunn and her teammates do not want to be treated differently than male U.S soccer players. Nevertheless, Cardiero and the U.S. Soccer Federation continues to pay women less and treat them differently than men despite the women’s overwhelming success and more impressive record than the men.
Let’s look at the the difference in salaries under the current ‘fair and equitable’ agreement: U.S. women soccer players receive 40-percent less than men, with a maximum salary of $37,800 compared to the average salary of $300,000 for U.S. male players. The excuse that men earn their higher salary through their success has to be dismissed: after reaching the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup, the men’s team received $5.375 million total, while the women only earned $1.725 million total after winning the 2015 World Cup. U.S. women’s soccer is actually the most successful in all of women’s international soccer, and have won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, while U.S. men’s soccer has not won any World Cup titles, nor any other global competition.
In addition, the women’s team has generated larger profits for the U.S. Soccer Federation, earned larger viewing audiences, and played more games than the men’s team. “In light of our team’s unparalleled success on the field, it’s a shame that we still are fighting for treatment that reflects our achievements and contributions to the sport,” noted starting midfielder Carli Lloyd to the LA Times. So the success of the two teams doesn’t quite explain the salary gap between them. There is no way to describe the ‘fair and equitable’ agreement other than sexist and discriminatory.
Equal pay for men and women has been an issue in ordinary jobs and athletes alike. The U.S. women’s lawsuit serves as an early step towards equal pay for men and women in sports. If the women win the lawsuit, it will serve as a major victory and a step towards equality for women in other sports and careers.