The U.S. Soccer women's team is one of the most successful sports organizations in the world. They've won the Women's World Cup four times — most recently in France in 2019 — and have claimed five Olympic gold medals.
The U.S. men's team has had much less success but the women have to achieve much more to earn the same compensation. A spokesperson from U.S. soccer told Upworthy that the men's team is compensated primarily in bonuses and its players receive $17,625 if they win against a top 10 opponent. Players on the women's team have a $100,000 salary and receive $8,500 for a win against a top 4 opponent.
The men's team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Earlier this month, USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone said that the discrepancy between how the World Cup prize money is allocated is "by far the most challenging issue" when it comes to paying both teams equally.
"Until Fifa equalises the prize money that it awards to the men's and women's World Cup participants, it is incumbent upon us to collectively find a solution," she said.
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Prize money for the 2018 men's World Cup totaled $400 million with winners France taking home $38 million. The prize money for the 2019 women's World Cup was just $30m with the U.S. women's team bringing home $4 million.
The reason for the huge gap is that the women's World Cup only generates around 2% of the revenue that the men's does. The 2018 men's cup generated $6.1 billion whereas the women's brought in $131 million.
In May, the women's team filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) claiming it was owed equal pay. The lawsuit was dismissed, pending appeal. The judge dismissed the case because the women had been paid more per game than the men, but that was due to their achievement on the field.
The women won two World Cups during the time period covered in the lawsuit, 2015-19, while the men failed to qualify for a World Cup.
"To argue that women should have to work harder and achieve more in order to earn the same as men is simply wrong -- both morally and legally," midfielder Samantha Mewis said in a statement. "We are pleased to be moving forward with the next phase of our lawsuit so that we can finally achieve what we -- and all women -- deserve: equality."
Even though the judge dismissed the lawsuit, it appears as though USSF still got the message from the players because it just offered equal contracts to both the men's and women's soccer teams. It's the first time the USSF has done so publicly.
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"U.S. Soccer firmly believes that the best path forward for all involved, and for the future of the sport in the United States, is a single pay structure for both senior national teams," the USSF said in a statement. "This proposal will ensure that USWNT and USMNT players remain among the highest paid senior national team players in the world …"
If either team doesn't agree to the contracts, the USSF will invite both player unions to negotiations to show full transparency.
Even though the USSF has offered equal contracts, the women's team is still pressing on with the lawsuit and is asking for $66 million in back pay.
Julie Foudy, captain of the 1999 World Cup-winning team says that the improvement in the way the women's team is being treated stems from the team's rise in popularity and social media. "The women's game now is so big in comparison to when the 99ers played," Foundry said. "The support that we have globally has absolutely risen. It's not just a few people in the United States – the world has our back."
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