The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Just Challenged the Gender Pay Gap in a Big Way

Ce46sSeXEAAPNf1Five members of the U.S. national women’s soccer team filed a complaint today with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation, the sport’s national governing body, of wage discrimination.

The players—Carli Llloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo—filed on behalf of the whole team, citing pay and bonus figures from 2013 onward as evidence of a wage gap.

According to analysis of the EEOC complaint by The New York Times, the gap is stark; in some cases, the female players made as little as 40 percent of what their male counterparts earned.

For exhibition (or “friendly”) games:

  • Women: $3,600 per game, plus $1,350 if they win
  • Men: $5,000 per game, plus $8,166 if they win

For World Cup games:

  • Women: $20,000 third-place bonus; $32,500 second-place bonus, $75,000 first-place bonus
  • Men: $52,083 third-place bonus; $260,417 second-place bonus; $390,625 first-place bonus

For sponsor appearances:

  • Women: $3,000 per appearance
  • Men: $3,750 per appearance

Per diems:

  • Women: $50 domestic; $60 international
  • Men: $62.50 domestic; $75 international

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Solo in a statement. “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup Championships, four Olympic Championships and the [men’s team players] get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

U.S. Soccer has said that these figures are part of a collective bargaining agreement that expired in 2012, but remains in effect under a 2013 memorandum of understanding; the players’ union disagrees. That contract is part of an ongoing negotiation between the union and the federation, but the EEOC complaint is separate.

The soccer federation issued a response to the complaint, saying, “We are disappointed about this action. We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”

Former captain of the U.S. women’s soccer team Julie Foudy, who played on the team from 1987 to 2004, says U.S. Soccer hasn’t always been as supportive as it claims. “The U.S. women for so long have been told, and this goes back to the days when I was playing on the team … that you don’t bring in money, you don’t bring in revenue,” she said in an interview with Los Angeles radio station KPCC, “and now of course with the popularity of the team, that equation has changed.”

In fact, U.S. Soccer itself predicts that in 2017, the women’s team will rake in $8 million more in revenue than the men’s team. Plus, the final women’s World Cup game last year—in which the U.S. beat Japan 5-2—was the most-watched-ever English-language soccer game in U.S. history.

Many members of the women’s team are using the hashtag #equalplayequalpay to get the word out about this massive pay gap. Show your support by joining the conversation!

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Photo via Carli Lloyd on Twitter



Stephanie Hallett is research editor at Ms. Follow her on Twitter @stephhallett.


  1. Want “equality”? Let the women compete in the men’s league… Or vice versa. Base their pay on how well they perform against each other. Do the same in all sports including boxing. In that way things will definitely sort themselves out. Guess which gender will then earn a higher wage.

  2. Rpb Lindsay says:

    If the revenue generated supports the claim made, then pay the ladies. I’d suggest both personal and performance related benchmarks for compensation consideration. Minutes played, lack of penalties , goals, assists, points, plus/minus, wins vs. loss… etc. There should be both team and individual criteria when factoring team sport compensation.
    Either way, find a metric that is fair and compensate accordingly. TV rights, merchandise sold, expenses… lots to factor. Certainly shouldn’t have executives reaping all the rewards!
    That said, one must remember that they are playing a sport they love, and are not an underpaid warfighter (comment for both men & women pro athletes)

  3. James R Symon says:

    Yes! Go for it!!

  4. William Kroiter says:

    Okay, let the gals play against the guys and see who is more deserving of more money.

    • Apples and oranges, my friend. Why are you so threatened by the idea that these women deserve as much pay as the men?

  5. Robin McMurchie says:

    Thank you to the US Women’s Soccer Team!! Your bravery and commitment to the game and to equality of women everywhere is deeply appreciated!! It’s way past time for the EEOC to get it’s sorry ass kicked and we are extremely grateful that you are leading the charge. Keep up the hard work. We are behind and beside you all of the way!

  6. Sara Seborg says:

    They are winning and are very good role models they deserve equal pay and actually retroactive pay for all the years they have not been paid a fair wage. I enjoy women’s soccer a lot more than men’s soccer.

  7. Based on this article, it appears a gross case of discrimination is on-going. It’s possible that equal pay for women (based on their revenue) would be more pay than men! Time for U.S. soccer to toss the 1950 style gender bargaining guide.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring blog… I find it very needful & informative as well… Keep sharing more soccer news!!!

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