WATCH: During the Olympics, Activists Demand Equal Pay for Equal Play

As the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) fights for another victory at the Rio Olympics, feminist organization UltraViolet is continuing the fight to close the wage gap that leaves the successful women athletes lagging behind their male counterparts. An ad airing on television stations during the Olympics and set to appear on major sports websites calls for equal pay for equal play on behalf of the USWNT players—and all women athletes who are still fighting for equal footing.

After three World Cup championships and four Olympic gold medals, USWNT players still earn significantly less than the players on FIFA’s men’s team. That wage gap isn’t new either—and neither is activism demanding U.S. Soccer, the governing body of the USWNT and the USNMT, do all they can to close it.

In 2015, Ultraviolet pressured FIFA to close the pay gap after the 2015 Women’s World Cup champions netted the USWNT only $2 million for their win, while the winners of the 2014 men’s World Cup netted $35 million. (In contrast, the U.S. men’s team was awarded a whopping $8 million prize after losing in the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup.) In March, five USWNT players filed a wage discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The USWNT brought in $20 million in revenue for their governing organization U.S. Soccer in 2015, while the men’s team cost the organization $2 million—but the women’s team players made 40 percent less than their male counterparts. According to data provided by the U.S. Soccer Federation, men are paid between $5,000 and $17,625 for friendly games even if they lose, whereas women are paid $1,350—and only if they win.

“It’s so disgraceful that despite these tremendous successes,” UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary said in a press release, “these sports heroes are still paid less than half the pay of the U.S. men’s team—which has never even won a single World Cup or an Olympic championship.”

More than 72,000 UltraViolet members have now signed onto a petition urging FIFA demanding equal pay for the US Women’s National soccer team.




Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|