By Chloe Tai
In an interview with New York Times, Carli Lloyd, 2015 FIFA women’s player of the year, explained, “It had everything to do with what’s right and what’s fair, and with upholding a fundamental American concept: equal pay for equal play. Even if you are female.” On March 31, 2016, five women from the U.S. women’s national soccer team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The commission, part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, settles disputes between employers and employees over allegations of wage discrimination. The women soccer players called foul on the huge wage disparity between men and women’s pay. The filers, star players Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn, are supported by attorney Jeffrey Kessler, a renowned lawyer for his part in Tom Brady’s “Deflategate”. This case has come during a critical time for the women’s soccer team, since they just won in a stunning, well-publicized match against Japan for the World FIFA Cup and are set to participate and hopefully win in the upcoming Summer Olympics. These leveraging hard numbers are in support of the women’s national soccer team.
“Our World Cup championship game brought in 25.4 million viewers in the United States — that’s more than the NBA finals — and we are projected to bring in millions of dollars in revenue in the coming year, while the men’s team is projected to lose at least a million dollars. And yet we continue to lag behind in pay.” Alex Morgan, a forward player on the team, told Cosmopolitan in an interview. The U.S. Soccer Federation’s main argument against the women’s national soccer team is that the team has traditionally, being the operative word, drawn in smaller crowds and less TV publicity. However, the women’s national soccer team very aptly beat the men’ soccer team in TV audience numbers during the FIFA game. With their victory, they upshot the U.S. Soccer Federation’s predictions of revenue by $16 million and are projected to win the Summer Olympics, no doubt attracting ever larger crowds. This leaves the brunt of the Federation’s counterattack a moot point. The defendants (the Federation) also point out the differences in the way the men and women are paid; while the women are given an annual salary of $72,000, the men are paid based on how many games they play. The complainants, in an article by the National Public Radio, counter this by noting that “if a male player is paid only the base amount of $5,000 for 20 games — and loses them all — he would still make $1,000 more than a woman who wins all 20 of her games.” While it can be easily acknowledged that the different systems of payment cannot be compared at face value, the complainants still see a discrepancy that needs to be changed.
Some extra facts on the side of the women include the bonuses gained for each game. Women get $1,350, but men get an average of $8,166 bonus per game. In addition, the wages for each respective team decrease as the player gets farther down the roster. However, even the lowest man on the men’s soccer team roster gets paid twenty times what the same ranking woman on the women’s soccer team gets paid. The complainants are also quick to mention the difference in skill. Up against international, tough competitors, the U.S. men’s team has not made it beyond the 16th round in 2014, whereas the women made it all the way to the finals. The women’s team has been consistently in the top ranks of international soccer.
There are many arguments for either side of this case, but the women truly feel that they are being cheated. While they could have waited for their collective-bargaining agreement to come to fruition, the complainants were obviously not confident in securing a pay raise if they followed the Federation’s rules. They hoped to not just create a better situation for themselves, but to raise the issue to those all over the country. Carli Lloyd and the other players are all advocating for a fairer situation regarding pay. As fans and as fellow women, we should support their case for equality, which is based on solid evidence and solid standing.