The U.S. women's soccer team broke a World Cup record on Tuesday by defeating Thailand 13-0, the largest winning margin in a single game in World Cup history with a record-tying five goals from star player Alex Morgan. But the victory is bittersweet, as it further highlights the longstanding hypocrisy of the pay disparity between the men's team and the women's team — the latter of which has won three World Cup titles (compared to the men's zero wins) despite earning way less money than their male counterparts.
And now, following the record-breaking victory, Twitter is exploding with calls for equal pay on the field. Unsurprisingly, the U.S. women's team continues to kill it — and is even favored to win the Cup for the fourth time. So why do they make less money when they win than the men make when they lose?
How much money does the U.S. women's team make?
In March, every member of the U.S. women's team filed a lawsuit against the soccer federation for gender discrimination. It stipulates that currently, if each team played and won 20 exhibition games in a year, “female WNT players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while similarly situated male MNT players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game." So the team is seeking equal treatment and pay, because as it stands, the women reportedly 38% of what their male counterparts make.
As far as individual players' incomes, they can vary markedly based on sponsorships and star power. Goalie Ashlyn Harris told The New York Times that she expects to make “between $300,000 and $400,000” this year, and another player estimated $167,500. Alex Morgan is estimated to earn $1 million annually. But for players without endorsement deals and less celebrity status, the numbers can be a lot lower.
Prior to the U.S. team's most recent landslide victory, Democratic presidential candidates Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren have long taken up the cause of equal pay in sports. The Paycheck Fairness Act, passed by House Democrats, would protect against gender discrimination, though it is currently stalled in the Senate. Notably, when asked by a reporter earlier this week if the women's team should be paid the same as the men, President Trump declined to respond.
How much money would they get from winning?
This year, the prize money is $30 million for all 24 teams (and of this, $4 million for the winning team), which is double what it was in 2015. But it's still paltry compared to the $400 million that the men got in the 2018 World Cup. This means that each member of the winning team will gross about $150,000 from FIFA.
As far as bonuses go, LUNA, a sponsor of the World Cup, announced in April it was gifting $31,250 to each of the 23 members of the 2019 USNWT World Cup team — citing this figure as the discrepancy between the men and women players' roster bonuses in 2019. And Visa, which sponsors U.S. soccer, also announced that this year it would invest more than half of its sponsorship funding to the women's team rather than splitting it evenly between teams like in years past.
What’s the pay gap between men’s and women’s US soccer?— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) June 11, 2019
Cause let’s just say if it’s performance based these ladies better be making way more than the boys, and somehow I suspect that might not be the case
— In Partnership with Luna—