**U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s Historic Exit from Women’s World Cup: Breaking the Gender Pay Gap**
**FIFA Reneges on Pay Pledge**
On July 20, FIFA president Gianni Infantino reneged on his commitment to distribute a portion of the Women’s World Cup prize money directly to the players. This decision dealt a blow to closing the gender pay gap in the sport. Under the initial payment model, each participating player was promised $30,000, with the payout increasing based on the team’s performance. The winning team’s players would’ve earned $270,000 each. For most players, this would’ve been a significant sum considering the global average salary for professional women’s soccer players is only $14,000.
However, FIFA stated that it could not guarantee this payment structure and claimed to be in discussions with national football federations regarding the issue. In the traditional model, member federations receive the prize money and have the discretion to distribute it to the players, often leading to unequal compensation. FIFA’s original commitment aimed to bypass the federations and ensure that $49 million of the record-breaking $110 million prize money would go directly to the players. Unfortunately, this promise was not upheld.
**Gender Pay Gap Persists in Women’s Soccer**
The gender pay gap in women’s soccer remains a pressing issue. At last year’s World Cup, women only earned 25 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. This figure is even worse than the global average gender pay gap across all industries, which stands at 77 cents on the dollar, according to the United Nations. Furthermore, nearly a third of women in the sport receive no payment from their federations, and approximately two-thirds have to take leave or unpaid leave from their second jobs to participate in tournaments, as highlighted in a 2023 report by FIFPRO, the global union for professional football players.
**U.S. Women’s Team Makes History with Early Exit**
The U.S. women’s soccer team suffered their earliest-ever exit from the Women’s World Cup in the 16th round, losing to Sweden in a penalty shootout. Despite this disappointment, the team still achieved a historic milestone by securing their biggest payout ever of $3.25 million. This remarkable achievement was made possible by the 2019 agreement between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the players, ensuring equal pay for the women’s and men’s national teams.
Under the terms of this agreement, both teams will split their prize money equally from their respective World Cups. Additionally, the players receive 90% of their payout, with the remaining 10% retained by the federation. In the 2022-23 World Cup cycle, the U.S. women’s team amassed a total of $7.3 million. This substantial financial success demonstrates the progress made in advocating for equal pay in women’s soccer.
**Trump Blames Megan Rapinoe and “Wokeness”**
Former president Donald Trump took to his social media platform, Truth Social, to comment on the U.S. women’s team’s performance in the World Cup. Trump blamed Megan Rapinoe, a prominent player known for her skill in shootouts and her fight for equal pay, as well as what he termed “wokeness,” for the team’s failure. His divisive post criticized the players’ behavior and claimed that no other country exhibited such hostility towards their own nation.
While Trump’s remarks sparked controversy, they highlight the ongoing dialogue surrounding the U.S. women’s team and their pursuit of equal pay. Despite the disappointment of their early exit from the tournament, the team’s determination to challenge the gender pay gap in soccer remains unwavering.
The U.S. women’s soccer team may have exited the Women’s World Cup earlier than expected, but they have undoubtedly made history and raised important conversations about equal pay. FIFA’s decision to renege on their pledge to distribute prize money directly to the players was disheartening, but the U.S. women’s team’s success in securing a substantial payout sets an important precedent. The fight for equal pay in women’s soccer persists, and the achievements and determination of players like Megan Rapinoe continue to inspire change within the sport. As the 2023 Women’s World Cup progresses, it is crucial that we continue to support and advocate for equal pay and opportunities for female athletes.