The U.S. team’s 5-2 triumph in the Women’s World Cup soccer final Sunday – with vice president Joe Biden and his wife in attendance – has reignited the long-running debate about inequality in women’s sports. That debate started on the field itself. As NBC News reported, the international soccer body, FIFA, not only declined to tweet about the women’s event from its usual World Cup account, “it then sent out 10 women in tight black dresses to escort a Mountie with the trophy after the match.”
Here are some numbers to kill your post-win buzz.
- After the prior Women’s Professional Soccer league failed to become financially viable, the fledgling National Women’s Soccer League, founded in 2013, has set salaries extremely low. “The minimum salary for an NWSL player is $6,842 for the course of the six-month season; the maximum is $37,800, made primarily by international-level players,” reported NBC Sports’ Jeff Kassouf. The minimum salary in the male counterpart, Major League Soccer, is $60,000. In contrast to the victorious women, the U.S. Men’s Team is ranked 27th in the world by FIFA. Even with major brand endorsements, Grantland estimated that one top player made between $60,000 and $92,500 a year.
Congratulations, U.S. women: You win $2 million in prize money, per the BBC. Compare that to the $35 million won by the German men when they won the last World Cup.
- Much of the inequity begins with FIFA. A gender discrimination complaint filed in Canada by 84 female soccer players over FIFA forcing the women to play on the more-dangerous artificial turf, was dropped, The Guardian reported, “after several soccer federations, to which FIFA gives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, threatened to bar the women involved in the lawsuit from playing on their national teams.” Players and former executives tell stories of blatant sexism, which Sports Illustrated reported “has long been part of the fundamental culture at the top of FIFA.”
- Experts say that Title IX, the 1972 law requiring gender equality in education, including in sports, is one reason why U.S. women excel at soccer. But plenty of schools are flouting that law. A National Women’s Law Center report last month examined more than 16,000 high schools and found that 28% have massive gaps in opportunities for girls’ sports compared to boys.