The reason the women’s national soccer team is paid so much less than the men’s team is buried inside a Guardian explainer on the “gender pay gap,” and it apparently has nothing to do with sexism.
The headline plays up the difference in pay — as much as three quarters of a million dollars — but buries the simple economic realities undergirding the pay structure. “Revealed: the $730,000 gender pay gap in US World Cup bonuses,” it reads. (RELATED: Nike Releases Video Celebrating Women’s World Cup Win)
A graphics display shows that women on the team can earn a maximum of $260,869, while men can earn up to $1,114,429, suggesting sex-based discrimination. But a closer look at the analysis reveals that women actually are paid far more than the men, in terms of the percentage of prize money FIFA doles out for World Cup tournaments, and that women are offered a fixed salary of $100,000 which supplements the bonus system, while men are not.
The second to last paragraph explains the women are paid 124 percent of Fifa’s prize money if they win the tournament, while men are paid 24 percent. The difference in pay comes down to the vastly different sums FIFA pays out to the winner. In 2018, FIFA made $400 million available to men playing in the World Cup, compared to just $30 million to women.
The Guardian reports:
But if Fifa prize money is the basis for most of the bonuses US Soccer provides the players, the federation is wiling to overpay the women – but only as long as they win the World Cup. US Soccer’s $9.4m bonus for the men’s team if they win the World Cup is 24% of Fifa’s $38m in prize, whereas US Soccer’s bonus of $2.5m for the women’s team if they win the World Cup is around 126% of Fifa’s prize money offered when the USWNT’s CBA was signed in 2017. (Fifa has since increased the women’s prize money from $2m for the World Cup winner to $4m.)
The women’s team is suing the U.S. Soccer Federation for what they say is a pay gap based on institutionalized sexism. The Guardian also notes that they are not using current bonus figures in the lawsuit, making the gap appear larger. In fact, the bonus paid out to women for helping the team qualify for the World Cup more than doubled from $30,000 in the last World Cup to $75,000 under the latest contract.