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 the Digital Editor at Ms. as well as the Community Director and Feminism Editor at Autostraddle and a Contributing Writer at Everyday Feminism. Her work has also appeared at BuzzFeed, MEL, Mic, BITCH and Feministing. She stays very zen in L.A. traffic. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

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  1. Thirteen nations took part in the inaugural event that saw
    the host nation Uruguay emerge ‘Champions of Planet Football’. 

  2. Liana Delgado says:

    It’s hard to believe that a team who has won three World Cups and four Olympic medals would earn 40% less than a team who has never won a World Cup or an Olympic championship. What could possibly be the reason? The answer is simply gender. This isn’t anything new neither should it be surprising to anyone. The gender wage gap in our society shows us every day how on average women earn less than men in the workforce. Of course, we can expect it to affect athletes in professional sports.
    Women haven’t been given the same opportunities as men in the workplace for decades. In professional sports, it can be witnessed by the millions of dollars women are being short-handed. $2 million for winning the women’s World Cup in comparison to the men’s $35 million earnings, should receive some type of penalty which FIFA should be responsible for. Why do we see men’s work always valued over women’s work? Are these men training more? Are these men sweating more? Are these men more passionate about soccer than the women are? I don’t believe that is the case.
    Many may say women have come a long way from where they once were decades ago; however, have they really? This gender wage gap is what causes the difference in economic power we see in our society. Women today still own less land, occupy fewer positions of power in businesses, political, and legal systems. How can we begin to see an effort to change these inequalities we see in gender? The 72,000 UltraViolet members who signed the petition urging FIFA to grant equal pay for the US Women’s National soccer team are a fantastic example. We must see more efforts like this to fight for gender equality, which in this case involved equal pay for equal play.

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