If you thought a World Cup win guaranteed women soccer players safe and professional playing conditions, think again. Goalkeeper Hope Solo — who was just announced as a member of the 2016 Olympics team — wrote a post titled "Time For Change" on her personal blog Tuesday. In it, she details the subpar conditions, pay, and treatment that professional players in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) have to deal with. The post comes shortly after her own NWSL team (the Seattle Reign) was forced to play in the outfield of a baseball stadium that barely met the league's regulations.
"While Sunday’s field issues made national headlines, which we were all so glad to see, the truth is that the standards of our league are so inconsistent and disappointing across the board, these kinds of incidents are really the rule and not the exception," she wrote.
She added, "It’s far past time that the women in our league start being treated like professional athletes — otherwise, we might as well just admit that the NWSL is just a semi-pro league, and stop pretending like it’s the best women’s league in the world."
Her post included statistics showing that the salaries for most women players place them below the poverty line. (For the record: The U.S. Census Bureau sets the poverty line for one person under age 65 at $12,331. Solo claims most players make between $6,000 and $14,000 in salary). Solo shared that the league often doesn't provide adequate gear for its athletes, and that field conditions for games are "poor." Solo also suggested that there is inadequate medical support for players and nearly non-existent security at events. In addition to the allegations against the league, Solo shared personal photos that document the unequal treatment, from dirty showers to unprofessional attire. "We get the same goalkeeping jersey that any fan can get, not fitted professional ones that any men's team would get," she wrote in one caption.
This isn't the first time Solo has called out the double standard in soccer. She and her teammates have been outspoken about major pay disparities between male and female professional soccer players. They even filed a federal complaint, charging U.S. Soccer with wage discrimination in March. Solo and her teammates are also the driving force behind the "Equal Play Equal Pay" t-shirt campaign, which directs 100% of its proceeds to the NWSL trust fund.
The U.S. women's national soccer team (which represents the country on the international level and is not affiliated with NWSL) is number one in the world right now, and the team's 2015 FIFA World Cup win was the most watched soccer game in U.S. history. Yet these major strides for women's soccer have done little to improve things for female players in the NWSL, Solo writes. She ended her latest blog post saying, "[E]quality is about more than just equal pay. It’s about fairness. And what’s happening in the NWSL is not fair."