The struggle for gender equality is being waged in several high profile industries, and the challenge received a significant level of attention in professional sports. The US women’s national football team lifted the World Cup after defeating the Netherlands 2-0. The American women’s national football team raised the World Cup and shined the slogan of ‘Dare to Shine!’ in the world. Seeing that the team tore the stadium, not only won the World Cup for the second time in a row, but also won the individual awards in the tournament, the Americans must bring their A-level competition.
However, at the moment when their victory – or the Billion Audience Tournament – was marked as ‘Dare to Shine’, FIFA, the global governing body of football, made the wrong voice.
The United States women’s team does not dare to do anything; they are just themselves (Board). In 2016, prominent members of the USWNT filed a complaint against their employer USSF (United States Soccer Federation) with the EOEC (Equal Opportunity Employment Commission).
Under their lawsuit, the USWNT alleged that they were being paid significantly less than USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) and the cause of their wage gap was old-fashioned sexism (Gordon). The oppression based on sexism is especially troublesome, as USWNT generates more revenue and is significantly more successful them USMNT. The following argument will highlight how the oppression grounded on the sexism of USWNT is a form of institutionalized gender discrimination that goes beyond wages, as it extends to training and playing conditions and quality of transportation and housing facilities.
Shen 1! Since 28 players targeted their employers in March and the US Football Federation filed a gender discrimination lawsuit, the US women’s soccer team has not only become their sports champion, but also the champion of equal struggle. So far, the two sides have agreed to mediate class actions, accusing American football of offering lower salaries and poorer conditions for its female athletes. This is the latest in a series of gender discrimination disputes in international sports – including basketball, boxing, hockey and tennis (Gordon).
The unique form of oppression faced by the USWNT in comparison to USMNT highlights contradictions that are intrinsic in analyzing commercialized sport as a capitalist profession. Comparatively, USWNT is more successful than USMNT, and their greater success was further escalated with USWNT winning the recently concluded 2019 FIFA World Cup (Das). Besides, the USWNT has been the most successful team in the history of women’s soccer, as they have won four world cups and four gold medals at Olympics, which cannot be said of USMNT who have achieved success only at a regional level and failed to qualify for 2018 World Cup (McDonald). Since the start of the women’s competition in 1991, it has won four of the eight World Cup finals and four of the six Olympic gold medals awarded since 1996. The American women’s team is one of the best football teams in history. In contrast, the men’s national team has never won the World Cup or even participated in the 2018 competition. The last Olympic medal won by the men’s national team was in 1904 (Gordon). The Women’s Sports Team is working to end the comparison of male and female athletes when it is required to have the same wages and conditions as their male Shen 2! counterparts.
However, in order to win this battle, some comparisons can serve as evidence in their favor. The USWNT makes a fraction in wages in comparison to the USMNT, in case of both international competition and their respective professional leagues. On average, the players of the USWNT earn around 38 percent of the wages of the USMNT. Since 2001, the USWNT players have been paid wages when they won a game against a top 10 team, whereas the USMNT were paid for every game they played. For the professionals who hope to become part of the USWNT, it is degrading and demotivating as they need to supplement their income from soccer through participating in foreign leagues during their off-season or by working part-time jobs. The current minimum wage drawn by women soccer players in the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) is $16,538 per annum, whereas male soccer players in the MLS have a starting wage of $56,250 per annum (Meeker). Also, the majority of players of the USMNT team can generate millions of dollars every year playing in domestic or foreign leagues. As a result, during summers, USMNT members can take time off resting and spending time with their family, and USWNT members are forced to work to make ends meet. If it’s just numbers, then the women’s team may face fewer obstacles. Sportswear giant Nike reported that the home jersey of the US women’s team has become the number one jersey sold on the company’s website in a year – male or female. According to the ‘Wall Street Journal’ report, since the 2015 World Cup champion, the national women’s team competition generated more income than men.
This year, the American audience watched the victory record of the women’s team. Despite this, FIFA will pay a total of only $30 million to the Women’s World Cup team, which is insignificant compared to the Shen 3! $440 million prize that the 2022 men’s team will receive (Randy). Over the years, opponents of equal pay for female athletes claim that women and men compete at different levels, they don’t look so exciting, and fans don’t care about them. The victory of the women’s football team and the love of players from all walks of life in the United States have had a strong response to these claims. This is not only important for the team and their litigation, but also for a generation of women who are involved in sports today – and wants to get paid in a fair way. The lawsuit filed by USWNT members also claims that the USSF deliberately provides poor quality accommodations to the USWNT during their travels in comparison to the USMNT. For instance, in 2017, the USMNT was provided around 17 charter flights by the USSF, whereas the USWNT were not even were afforded a single one. In 2015, Alex Morgan, the star forward of the USWNT, publicly criticized the women’s league for providing housing for players in a hotel where rooms were riddled with mold and bed bugs. In contrast, the USMNT team and MLS players stay in the best hotels, which provides a sign of oppression faced by women in pursuing their sporting career (Meeker). Another area of difference faced by NWSL and USWNT players come from being subjected to playing conditions that fail to meet the standards provided to MLS and USMNT players. USMNT players are rarely asked to play on artificial turfs, which the majority of soccer players avoid as it increases the risk of several types of injuries. Alex Morgan, the starlet of USWNT, noted that her recovery time after performing on artificial turf was several days longer in comparison to natural grass. In contrast, the USMNT are provided the luxury of playing on grass throughout their playing season, and rarely need Shen 4! to perform on artificial turf in recent years (Meeker). There are experiences of USWNT canceling their victory tour after the 2015 World Cup, especially due to the poor quality of facilities and surface, as the USSF failed to send their representative for examining the surface.
The facilities selected for training and playing of the USWNT are significantly more inferior to the USMNT, and the USSF are directly responsible for creating these differences (Meeker). The oppression faced by women in our society is evident with the treatment of the USWNT, which has forced them to file a lawsuit against the USSF on the grounds of gender inequality and the wage gap. The USWNT makes several times less in wages than USMNT, which is degrading for USWNT as they have been significantly more successful than their male counterparts. The difference between the treatment of USWNT is not only limited to wages, as the USMNT is also provided better playing and training facilities and quality of housing and transportation.
Overall, it is evident that sexism and gender inequality is apparent in American soccer, and the lawsuit filed against USSF is grounded on morals and logical. When women collect medals, the roaring crowd on Sunday shouted ‘equal pay for equal work.’ While achieving this requirement is only a step in the history of long- term gender discrimination, it is a crucial issue in sports and other areas. American football needs to listen to the opinions of female players and make up for this unforgivable gap. These achievements show us the way forward for the struggle for women’s true equality, not only in sports but in society as a whole. They also tell us that capitalism is an integral part of the oppression that women endure, and to truly overcome gender inequality, we have no choice but to overcome capitalism.
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