Once again, women are having to prove they do the same amount of work as men in order to get equal pay and benefits.
As part of the women’s US national soccer team suit against the federation for equal pay, their lawyers will have to prove that the U.S. female soccer team, a three-time world champion and a four-time Olympic gold medalist, is worthy of the same pay and benefits as the men’s team. There are already numerous hurdles, including overcoming already negotiated agreements and differences in pay structures. The team is also not allowed to strike to augment their case “at least” until it expires at the end of 2021.
In their gender discrimination lawsuit, the women’s team says “institutionalized gender discrimination” has existed for years even though they play more games and win more games than the men’s team but still get paid less.
This lawsuit has been a longtime coming in the years long fight for pay and treatment equity across all sports, including soccer. The women’s soccer team has had some successes recently, though only after their complaints built up and garnered worldwide attention. FIFA doubled the prize money pool for this summer’s Women’s World Cup (after the United States team’s complaints) and the women flew on their first chartered flights between matches last week, which the men’s team has been doing for years.
A study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found several critical differences between men and women soccer. The average salary for U.S. female soccer players is $40,000, while the average for men is around $60,000, with many men earning well above that. The men’s payment can go up to around $300,000, while the female’s salaries are capped at about $85,000.
According to this study, there are several major factors that are contributing to the inequality in the sport between men and women, including “male-centric” video games such as FIFA and magazine covers showing female athletes in bikinis and “sexually objectified” instead of in more athletic settings. The study also noted the major average salary differences in favor of men and that men receive many more advertising deals with large companies.
“Magazines such as Sports Illustrated that sexualize female athletes do it to attract more readers and sales in order to make more money. This leads to the huge wage gap between male and female soccer players even though the women’s national team did much better in the last two World Cups than the men’s. Research shows how women are often represented in accordance to hegemonic femininity and that the inequality women in sports face is due to society holding masculine values above all else,” the study reads.