Women have the balls for sports

By Opinions Editor

The U.S. women’s soccer team won the Women’s World Cup in July 2015, receiving $2 million as prize money. This may seem like a lot, but it’s an embarrassment compared to what men’s teams earn.

A year earlier, the men’s team made it only to 11th place in the World Cup yet received an award of $9 million, according to a March 31 article from Money.com. The men’s World Cup winner, Germany, took home $35 million.

The U.S. team’s winning match at the Women’s World Cup attracted the largest audience for a televised soccer game in the U.S. and had record ratings in Japan, Canada, France, England and China, according to a July 11, 2015, article from the Los Angeles Times.

Members of the women’s soccer team are now filing a wage discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission and rightfully so. These women have not been paid as well as Olympic- and World Cup-winning athletes should be. 

Gender inequality in soccer compensation is not limited to the U.S. teams. Men’s teams played for a total of $576 million in World Cup prizes in 2014, while women’s teams played for a total of $15 million in 2015, according to a July 6, 2015, article from The Washington Post.

If sports organizations want to commit to equality, they need to start dedicating comparable resources to women’s teams, especially now that these athletes have proved their place in the world of sports.

Many would claim the disparity in compensation is justified because men’s sports have historically been more popular. That argument overlooks the historical exclusion of women from professional sports.

Defenders of the status quo also point out that the Women’s World Cup in 2015 produced $17 million in ads for Fox—a fraction of the $529 million that ESPN made from the men’s World Cup in 2014, according to The Washington Post article.

It is not that Fox received less money than ESPN because the games were viewed less or because women’s sports are less popular among viewers, and the ratings prove that. The network made less money because fewer people are interested in investing in the Women’s World Cup.

Women in sports are not given the opportunity to thrive, but they still succeed. If the women’s team has achieved success with such limited support, imagine what it could do with equal resources.

The  way the World Cup compensates teams demonstrates how FIFA views women’s teams. The members of the men’s teams are paid whether they win or lose, but the women’s teams are only paid if they win.

This system is no longer about rewarding what is popular—it simply allows unjustifiable discrimination to continue and perpetuates the practice of forcing women to prove something to find a place in the professional sports world when men’s teams are awarded respect, compensation and resources automatically.