(KXAN) — Sports fans love to debate. But when it comes to women’s soccer, there is no debate: The US Women’s National Team is the best in the world.
How much that’s worth is the subject of a lot of debate.
One side says the women win more, so they deserve more money. The other side says the men generate more revenue, so they deserve more. The problem is U.S. Soccer doesn’t break it down like that.
Their 2018 financial statement shows total revenue of $102 million. It doesn’t say how much came from the men and how much came from the women. That’s because U.S. Soccer sells marketing packages and broadcast rights, which make up the bulk of revenue, as a bundle. If you buy one team, you buy both.
Members of the USWNT are suing US Soccer for discrimination. In their lawsuit, they claim a women’s team member makes a little more than $100,000 over a 20-game span, compared to $265,000 for a men’s team player — a 62% gap.
The Washington Post analyzed the collective bargaining agreement between the USWNT and US Soccer and found that claim to be true under the old agreement, but the pay gap under the new agreement signed in 2017 is 11%.
What about the World Cup?
The World Cup is a different beast and the gap between men and women is huge. FIFA, soccer’s governing body around the world, runs the tournament and pays out prize money based on where a team finishes in the tournament.
The U.S. men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. That year’s winner, France, took home $38 million, part of which is filtered down to players in the form of bonuses.
The U.S. women will get $4 million for their latest win.
Unlike U.S. Soccer, FIFA’s financial report reveals which events bring in the most money. FIFA reported $2.5 billion in revenue in 2018 (last men’s World Cup), compared to $260 million in 2015, the year of the last women’s World Cup. That same report shows, between 2015-2018, FIFA collected $3.1 billion in broadcast rights fees — 95% came from the Men’s World Cup
In response to the lawsuit, US Soccer says they are only passing on the prize money from FIFA. Attorneys for the USWNT members argued that, just because FIFA pays women less, that doesn’t mean US Soccer has to, as well.
USWNT gaining leverage
Winning back-to-back World Cup’s brings considerable fame. Last month, Nike’s CEO said the USWNT jersey became the top-selling soccer jersey ever sold on their website in one season, men or women — and that was before they won their fourth Cup.
Congress is also taking notice. 50 members of the House Democratic Women’s Caucus signed a letter to the head of US Soccer, urging him to eliminate the pay gap.
The current collective bargaining agreement between U.S. Soccer and the women’s team runs through 2021.