This past Sunday in France, the United States Women’s Soccer Team defeated the Netherlands in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final by a score of 2-0. The win marked the fourth World Cup title for the USA, the team having won in 1991, 1999 and 2015 as well. It was a dominating tournament; the American players scored 26 goals and gave up just three across seven matches. They displayed unrivaled talent, poise and passion for the sport and their repeated ascension to victory is a surprise to no one.
During the time America’s National Soccer Team was breezing its way through the World Cup, another citizen of the states was cementing herself upon a different world stage. Cori “Coco” Gauff, a 15-year-old tennis professional, made her debut appearance at Wimbledon when she qualified for the main draw. Gauff is the youngest player in the Open Era history to qualify. She proceeded to win three straight matches, defeating Venus Williams, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog in order to advance to the round of sixteen. She lost there to No. 7 rank Simona Halep in sets 6-3, 6-3. Her qualifying was a matter of history; her success is the basis of legend.
With the aforementioned accomplishments, particularly the former, the issue of pay disparity has continued its stay as a central advocacy issue in American politics. The entirety of the U.S. Women’s Team is currently in a mediation process with The United States Soccer Federation after filing a lawsuit against the latter for unequal pay. Despite their success, the women players are vastly underpaid in comparison to their male counterparts; in 2015, the Federation awarded the team a $1.7 million bonus for winning the World Cup, after having awarded the men’s team a $5.4 million bonus for reaching the round of 16. On per game salary, world stage bonuses and details such as travel accommodations, the women’s team has accused the Federation of undervaluing them. The statistics support such claims, but what decision the two parties reach in mediation remains to be seen.
The initial conclusion, indeed the same one I had, is that the revenue generation between the two must be at play; the men earn more and thus reap the greater benefits. That’s not true. In 2015, following their World Cup success and subsequent victory tour, the women’s team showed a $23 million increase in revenue for the Federation — more than the men’s team. Beyond the financial factor, the fact remains that the U.S. Women’s Team is the most successful women’s soccer team in history but are being grossly underpaid for their achievements.
Now take Wimbledon, where the purse (prize money) for first place is just shy of $3 million for singles, men and women. That equality remains throughout all awarded places; Gauff, for example, will receive the same $223,464 that Matteo Berrettini, an Italian male tennis player who also lost in the round of 16, will. Whether Gauff drew a greater crowd in her lost match than Berrettini did in his (against Roger Federer) is irrelevant to the Wimbledon structure of pay. There’s a difference to be noted here, as Wimbledon is a single tournament, and not an entire season of competitive play, as you have with the U.S. Men and Women’s Soccer Teams. Nevertheless, the idea of financial reward being based on performance, rather than … well, whatever it is the Federation bases their structure on, is an agreeable one; rather simplistic in nature, honestly.
There are things that continue to bewilder me with each passing year. Western civilization is praised for its progressive nature, yet aspects chain it to a scarred past. Among these, without comparison between them, is unequal pay. The use of bewilder is apt; I cannot understand how one justifies pay discrepancy, especially in a situation where revenue generation has been proven irrelevant. Explanations welcomed.