The U.S. women’s national soccer team defeated the Netherlands on Sunday in an impressive and exciting match, securing its fourth Women’s World Cup title. Star players Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle both scored a goal in the second-half, giving the U.S. a comfortable lead that it successfully sustained for the remainder of the match.
At the end of the game, fans in the Lyon, France stadium were shouting “Equal Pay,” a clear reference to the team’s involvement in international debates on gender discrimination and disparities in soccer. Rapinoe, who was labeled most valuable player at this year’s Cup, has been particularly vocal on this front. She has spoken out about FIFA’s mistreatment of female players, pointing to pay and prize money gaps between men’s and women’s teams as well as the unfair scheduling of the Women’s World Cup final on the same day as the Copa America and Golden Cup finals.
In a press conference just before the final, Rapinoe told reporters “I don’t think that we feel the same level of respect certainly that FIFA has for the men and just in general,” adding, “If you really care, are you letting the gap grow, are you scheduling three finals on the same day? No, you’re not.”
In March, the team filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). The plaintiffs–28 members of the women’s team–allege that the USSF pays them significantly less than players on the men’s national team, even though the women’s team plays more matches and wins more games. The players also argue that the USSF has subjected them to unequal treatment and working conditions, forcing the women to play on inferior fields, failing to advertise them as much as their male counterparts, and refusing to offer them amenities, like chartered flights, that the men’s team enjoys.
Many of the issues with the USSF identified in the brief echo those in a federal 2016 complaint filed by five women’s national team players. The five players–Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo–filed the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of their entire team. They charged that even with the women’s team success, including being the reigning World Cup and Olympic champions, they have been paid almost four times less than the men’s team. According to the fillings, despite bringing in nearly $20 million more in revenue than their male counterparts, the women were paid nearly four times less.
Media Resources: New York Times 3/8/19, Feminist Newswire 3/31/19, Time 7/6/19, USA Today 7/7/19, New York Times 7/7/19