To hear modern feminists and their media supporters tell it, women across the country are subjected to routine discrimination in the workplace by being paid less than their male counterparts.
So a collective cheer went out when the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) sued the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) for alleged pay discrimination. Finally, America would have a famous example of unequal pay for feminists to rally around. Except, it was obvious from the start that the USWNT didn’t have a leg to stand on.
I first wrote about the issue in 2015, a year that held the Women’s World Cup. At the time, the pay discrimination argument would come up every year the USWNT had its World Cup, and every year, serious journalists would have to point out the facts. Mainly, USWNT games bring in fewer viewers and thus lower ad revenue than the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT). World Cup games are different, where the women’s team rivals the men’s team championship in viewers, but as Chris Chase wrote at USA Today in 2015, that viewership is likely more dependent on national pride than anything to do with the USWNT. The Olympics, for example, brings in millions of viewers each year, he wrote.
“Does that mean swimming, track, figure skating, hockey and bobsled were growing in the United States? Of course not. It means that we, as a country, like to wrap ourselves in the flag while watching sporting events. It has been this way and it will continue to be this way,” Chase wrote.
Also in 2015, The Washington Post reported that women’s soccer, which was shown on Fox Sports, only brought in $17 million in ad sponsorship, while men’s soccer, shown on ESPN, brought in $529 million. In addition, the men’s World Cup generated $4.5 billion in direct revenue to the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
CBS reported at the time that the women’s soccer team actually brought in a higher percentage of revenue generated by their World Cup than the men’s team, but because the respective cups brought in vastly different amounts of revenue, the women’s team still made less. The men’s team only took home 9% of the revenue generated by their 2010 World Cup – though that amounted to $348 million. Women, on the other hand, took home 13% of their 2015 World Cup revenue, but that only amounted to $10 million.
The women’s team, just like the men’s team, also negotiated their own collective bargaining agreement with the USSF, meaning they agreed to their payment terms they said were discriminatory in their lawsuit. As The Daily Wire’s Amanda Prestigiacomo reported, that lawsuit’s claim of gender discrimination was just thrown out of court. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner noted in his ruling (Klausner had previously ruled against USSF, which wanted to rely on total compensation, last November) that the women’s team “rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure” as the men’s soccer team, meaning they rejected the equal pay they now claim to want.
“The WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” Klausner wrote. “Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA (collective bargaining agreement) worse than the MNT (men’s national team) CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure.”
In a June 2019 court filing the USWNT argued that it was paid less than the men’s team even though they brought in more revenue for USSF than the men’s team. The difference in revenue was slight – $50.8 million to $49.9 million – but it was enough for the media and feminists to claim victory on the discrimination issue, at least for a little while. The USSF countered the women by releasing a “fact sheet” that claimed the women’s team actually lost the USSF money, reminding us all that revenue does not equal profit.
“From 2009 through 2019 — a timeframe that includes two Women’s World Cup championships — the Women’s National Team has earned gross revenue of $101.3 million over 238 games, for an average of $425,446 per game, and the Men’s National Team has earned gross revenue of $185.7 million over 191 games, for an average of $972,147 per game. More specifically, WNT games have generated a net profit (ticket revenues minus event expenses) in only two years (2016 and 2017),” USSF claimed. “Across the entire 11-year period, WNT games generated a net loss of $27.5 million. Nevertheless, U.S. Soccer does not view these as losses, but rather as an important investment in our Women’s National Team and in the long-term growth of women’s soccer.”
As I previously reported, the women’s team has a guaranteed salary thanks to their CBA with USSF, which includes a base salary of $100,000 each year and an additional salary of $67,500 to $72,500 for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League. The men’s team does not have this in their agreement. The women’s team, according to USSF, also receives benefits including health insurance, a 401(k) plan, maternity leave, and injury protection. The men’s team receives no benefits (obviously, they don’t need maternity leave, but they don’t get the other benefits or paternity leave).
In fact, the men’s team only gets paid in bonuses.
Judge Klausner seemed to confirm some of this information in his ruling, citing as undisputed fact that even using the shortened timeframe from 2015 to 2019, the women’s team averaged more per game in total payments that the men’s team. ESPN reported that during those four years, the women’s team “averaged $220,747 per game in total payments (for a total of $24.5 million), while the men’s national team averaged $212,639 per game in total payments (for a total of $18.5 million).”
The ruling shows that once again, there is almost always more to the story than simple pay discrimination. When feminists talk about the gender wage gap, they are distorting what is actually an earnings gap – due to factors that have nothing to do with alleged discrimination. Just as the women’s soccer team chose their pay structure, women in America have the freedom to choose their careers, and those choices tend to involve lower salaries in exchange for more flexibility and time with family.
The media and feminists tried to use the women’s soccer team as an example of American women’s victimhood, and it failed, spectacularly.
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