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!

Photo via Carli Lloyd on Twitter


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.