Equal Play v. Equal Pay

By Maylyne Togafau |Staff Writer|

The U.S. Women’s Soccer team have finally reached a consensus with the U.S. Soccer Federation on the terms of their new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Major terms of the new contract include a substantial base-wage increase, better travel accommodations, and some licensing and marketing rights for the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT).

In a joint statement, U.S. Soccer and the United States women’s national soccer team players’ associations announced their excitement to “continue to build the women’s program in the U.S, grow the game of soccer worldwide, and improve the professional lives of players on and off the field.”

Previous to the new agreement, it took several negotiations, a handful of lawsuits, and a near strike for both parties to reach a compromise.

In March 2016, five high-profile players—Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Hope Solo, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Alex Morgan—filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of paying the players much less than the United States Men’s National Team.

The complaint cited numbers from the U.S. Soccer Federation’s 2015 financial report, and argued that although the reigning World Cup Champions raked in almost $20 million more revenue than the USMNT the previous year, they were paid about four times less.

The financial report also requires both the men’s and women’s teams to play 20 “friendly” games a year. But the women receive a bonus of $1,350 for a winning game, whereas men are guaranteed $5,000 in those same games, regardless of the outcomes.

CSUSB’s men’s soccer player Daniel Looker agrees that “the U.S. women’s national team is far better than the men’s team as far as their performance in world soccer.”

However, Looker also contends that there may be another reason for why the circumstances are as they are. 

“The men’s World Cup brings in far more revenue than the women’s does […] it simply means that people prefer to watch men play,” Looker continued.

Equity is not a new idea, even in professional sports, although there continues to be new ways in which it is either fought for or argued against.

The USWNT launched a campaign called Equal Play, Equal Pay. The campaign was created to emphasize the inconsistencies in equity and respect given to the women’s national team in contrast to the men’s national team.

Though the intent of the campaign called for equality, there were very few players from the men’s national soccer team who stood alongside the women’s team to offer active support.

Similarly, in a current and ongoing case, the National Women’s hockey league also incited negotiations for “fair wages and equitable support” from the USA Hockey organization.

However, unlike the U.S. men’s national soccer team, the NWHL’s male counterparts are threatening to boycott the World Championship, taking a public position alongside their female counterparts.

USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn expressed her disappointment in the men showing a lack of support.

She said to Excelle Sports, “I think if the men did support us, I think that voice, the federation would hear that. The country would hear that.”