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Are the Women Soccer Players Underpaid?

As with everything else in America, the answer is “it’s complicated.”

So, Team USA (female empowerment edition) won the World Cup and all we can do is mock them and argue about whether they’re underpaid? Personally, I’d rather watch paint dry than watch EITHER sex play soccer. But I love my country and I’m proud of this team.

USA!USA!USA!

The women’s team have been publicly complaining that they receive less money than the men’s team. Some people say that they should have waited until AFTER the tournament was over to raise this, but the fact is that in 3 days from now, America will go back to not caring about soccer. So, if they don’t press NOW, it won’t change.

First, let me stipulate that I don’t think women athletes should automatically receive the same pay as men. Women’s sports generally tend to have smaller audiences and generate less revenue. For instance, the WNBA plays a shorter season (34 games) than the men (82 games). But the difference in salaries is disproportionate because the NBA earns a lot more money.

According to MAGA Twitter, the men make more because they bring in more:

So, it’s only natural that women soccer players earn less than the men’s team because the men’s team brings in more revenue. Or rather, the men’s team DID bring in more revenue. I don’t know where Walsh got his numbers, but they are outdated. This year, that gap has closed. Since 2016, the women’s team has generated as much, if not more revenue than the US men’s team. After the women won the 2015 World Cup, they generated $1.9 million more than the men the following year.

But even though revenue is easy to calculate, sponsorships are not. Sponsorships have contributed $44-48 million a year, but that is for the entire U.S. Soccer Federation. It is impossible to know how much is generated by each team.

Should the women receive more pay because they won the World Cup whereas the men failed to qualify? Then you’re comparing apples to oranges. So, today’s Washington post put together this scenario:

The Fact Checker obtained the new agreement, which took effect in April 2017. Using the same 20-game scenario, we calculated the player on the women’s team would earn $28,333 less, or about 89 percent of the compensation of a similarly situated men’s team player. If both teams lost all 20 games, the players would make the same amount. That’s because the men earn a $5,000 bonus when they lose and the women have a $100,000 base salary.”

And that’s something everyone arguing about this is overlooking: the men get paid a bonus for winning and the women have a base salary. That is not unusual. Men are more willing to take lower base salaries than women in exchange for higher commissions and bonuses. Women tend to prefer security more and are willing to work for a base pay that they are guaranteed rather than risk not getting paid at all by working a commission only job. (Yes, I’m making a sweeping generalization here.)

So, why do the 2 teams have such a different pay structure? Because that’s what their unions negotiated last time and the women were led to believe that it was the best they could do at the time.

Now they think differently. They think that as 2 time reigning World Cup champions that are playing more and winning more and bringing in more revenue, then they should get paid more.

And, if those numbers are correct, who’s to say that they’re wrong?

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