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US Women's Soccer: More Than Just a Game

The team's quest to defend their title has raised the profile of their equal pay fight

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jul 09, 2019

This week, the United States Women’s National Team  (USWNT)won their 4th World Cup. The champs headed to Paris as the favorite and they delivered, never falling behind in the tournament in their quest to repeat as World Champions.

As the final buzzer sounded, US stars flooded onto the field to raise the World Cup trophy and celebrate a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. As they celebrated, the 60,000+ crowd rained down chants of “Equal Pay” on the women. The USWNT made headlines in March when they sued the US Soccer Federation claiming gender discrimination. They pointed to the fact that between 2013 and 2016, both the men’s and women’s team played 20 games, yet the men were paid $263,320 and the women were paid $99,000.

“We’re America’s dream team, and we’ve been at the forefront. We’ve been at the top, and I think the No. 1 team in women’s sports history,” said Carli Lloyd, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and 2015 FIFA player of the year. “We win. We’re successful. (We) should get what we deserve.”

Many blame the pay disparity on FIFA, the international governing body for soccer. They announced that the winner of the Women’s World Cup would get a $4 Million bonus, while the Men’s winner was paid $38 Million in 2018.

The disparity in the pay of the Women’s team has drawn the support of some unlikely people. While many elected officials like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris have all called for US Soccer to pay the women fairly, one of the federation’s biggest sponsors has taken a very public stand in support of equal pay. Nike, who has reported that the USWNT Jersey is the top-selling soccer jersey of all time, released a commercial that many saw as a message of support for the women’s fight for equal pay.

"All players, I'm saying every player at this World Cup, put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for," Megan Rapinoe said. "We can't do anything more to impress, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better, to do anything. It's time to move that conversation forward to the next step."

Rapinoe has been the outspoken leader of the team both on the field and in their fight for equality. She became a lightning rod after she announced that she would not stand for the National Anthem. She has also recently been the recipient of intense vitriol from Trump who has taken to Twitter to attack Rapinoe for saying that she would not accept an invitation to the “f-king White House” if the team won.

Instead of a White House visit, the USWNT will take part in a ticker-tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes in New York City. They have also been invited by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Capital for a bi-partisan celebration of their victory.

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