Features Jul 31, 2019 at 4:00 am

Here's what Seattle's soccer sensation is fighting for.

Megan Rapinoe’s pose—described as the closest thing to “winged victory”—is now iconic. Maja Hitij / Getty Images Staff



It is laughable that the women’s team get smaller bonuses than the men’s.
However, professional sports participants, in terms of salary, are only going to get paid according to how much of an audience they can draw. I’m guessing the women’s game, week in, week out, only draws a fraction of a paying audience of what the men’s game pulls. That’s certainly the case in the UK, where Chelsea women’s team (perhaps the biggest/best) pull around 2000, paying £6 entry. Compare that with the men’s team. 40000, paying £30-50.


Sports cannot be treated as ordinary employment only when someone wants to treat the field that way. That isn't an attempt to say anything about this particular case; my main example is the current push for paid maternity leave on the WTA.


Sports/entertainment is SO DIFFERENT than engineering or accounting or project management. My friend is a better musician/singer than Taylor Swift, but he doesn't get paid as much. Fair?


I'm better in bed and better endowed than any porn star but I don't get paid as much. Fair?


@1,2,3,4... The issue isn't about being paid the same as Lionel Messi or even Jordan Morris for league play that doesn't draw that same audience. It's about being paid the same as the men in the national team that underperform the women in both results and audience. USSF is making plenty of money from the women's game (Reign, not so much) so it is fundamentally a question of giving the women a more equitable share of those profits.


I had no idea this woman was actually playing professionally in Seattle. I just heard she was dating the Storm player. Either way, my interest level in soccer is the same, zero. Less than zero actually.


@6, thanks for the explanation. That makes more sense.


@6, The USSF paid $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the USWNT from 2010 to 2018. The USMNT received $26.4 million during that time. These facts have been verified by an independent accounting firm. https://www.ussoccer.com/governance/board-of-directors/us-soccer-president-carlos-cordeiro/open-letter-july-29-2019-finding-common-ground

FIFA is the source of the pay gap. Of course, the 2018 World Cup made over $6B for FIFA, while the 2015 Women's World Cup only made $73M. So maaaaybe that's a factor?



FIFA is, ostensibly, a non-profit, and there's no economic excuse for them to be providing unequal pay for equal work.

But that doesn't mean the lawsuit against USSF has no merit. The pay comparison you cite (and the audit ordered and paid for by USSF) is far from apples-to-apples, the most glaring discrepancy being that the tallies include NWSL league salaries for USWNT members, but not MLS (or other) league salaries for USMNT members.



@10, You're falling for some interesting math...the reason they've paid out more to the women's team is because unlike the men's team, the women actually qualified for the World Cup and played all their games. The men weren't paid at all for the World Cup because they didn't even qualify to play in it.
But on the qualifying games (that they lost) the men were paid much, much more than the women (who won all their games). That's the issue they're fighting over.


@12, OK. If you want an apples to apple comparison, how much did the USSF pay in salaries for men in the MLS?

Add that to the men's total. Did the numbers change?


good for meagan, there is a bit of a smugness that I'm not totally feeling but hey...


@14 Yes, that's precisely the criticism of the comparison.

You've got the essence of it exactly right-- the argument is that we have subtract the amounts USSF paid in NWLS and MLS (or other) league salaries when we want to compare pay for international competition.


"she's the greatest soccer player in the world."

She wouldn't even make the Sounders if she tried out. In fact, her team was beaten by a the Dallas FC 15 yr old boys club, 5-2. For a girl though, she's damn good.

"It is laughable that the women’s team get smaller bonuses than the men’s. "

Smaller revenues, smaller bonuses. This is a classic case of wanting equal pay while refusing to generate equal revenue.


@16, Do you know how much USSF pays MLS for mens' salaries?


@18 Yes, I can easily look up how much USSF pays for NWLS salaries, and subtract that from the total payments to arrive at pay to women for work in international tournaments. And you can too! And as an accounting formality, we can also subtract the zero that USSF pays for MLS (or other club) pay to arrive at the total paid to men for work in international tournaments.

It looks to me like you have a clear understanding of the simple arithmetic the argument rests on.


@19, Correct! The answer is zero. USSF pays zero dollars towards USMNT MLS salaries.

So, in an apples to apples to comparison (including the salaries of national team players the USSF pays out), the USSF paid $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the USWNT from 2010 to 2018. The USMNT received $26.4 million during that time.

Glad we can agree on this simple arithmetic.

I'm not a lawyer and I don't whether or not the lawsuit has merit (I'm aware there is more to it than pay), but it's evident that the USSF is actually paying the USWNT more. (FIFA, not so much.)


@20, @21

Ohhhh, you're PRETENDING to be too thick to understand how to do the simple arithmetic to distinguish pay for work in international competition from pay for work in club competition.

I get it, I get it! Very clever, lads!


@22, The NWSL salary payments were negotiated by the USWNT in their collective bargaining agreement with the USSF, so they are absolutely relevant to discussions about payments from the USSF to members of the USWNT. But OK, let’s pretend they don’t matter.

The USWNT got $7.7M more than the USMNT from 2010-2018. About $7M of that money was for USWNT player league salaries. That still leaves the women getting $.7M more than the men.

Simple arithmetic. There is no evidence of pay discrimination from the USSF here.


The women's team are so far more accomplished and watched than the men's team. The men have never even made it anywhere close to the final. Pay the ladies.


Here is a breakdown anyone that wants to have an opinion on the issues should to read.

Core fact: the woman are being paid less than their male counterparts; how the pay structures work and what should be done about it is complicated.


Lol, who? Her 15 minutes is up.


Eh. Until the women can put as many buts in the seat and advertisers are willing to compete for ad space (two things don't happen presently) they'll never earn as much as the men - because they aren't earning their bosses as much as the men do. Capitalism 101 - the workers only get paid as little as they're willing to take. Since Fox's bottom line depends much more on the men's success, necessitating the best players our country can produce, they'll never have to compete to pay the women's team, who could make the World Cup semis exclusively with their NEXT 25 players.

This is like comparing tips for a barista at Intelligentsia vs a barista at Starbucks. It's equal work, but it's the micro-discrimination of the american population that causes the pay differential, not a bunch of fat-cats snorting coke through $100 bills at USA Soccer HQ.

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