The President of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) released a “fact sheet” Monday night alleging that, contrary to claims made as part of a lawsuit, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) actually lost the federation millions of dollars. Despite this, the president claimed, women soccer players still out-earned their male counterparts.
Every four years, when the Women’s soccer World Cup is in the news, we are told that the women’s team is paid less than the men’s team. The claim is used as a rallying cry in the demand for equal pay, even though athletes and other entertainers have vastly different pay structures than average Americans.
Still, we are told the women’s team is discriminated against because of their gender because they are paid less than the men’s team. Earlier this year, the women’s team filed a lawsuit against the USSF alleging pay discrimination. In June, the women’s team released information alleging they brought in more revenue for USSF than the men’s team. The difference was slight — $50.8 million to $49.9 million — but it was enough to cast doubt on those saying the women’s team doesn’t bring in as much revenue as the men’s team.
Now USSF President Carlos Cordeiro is pushing back. He wrote an open letter explaining that he directed U.S. Soccer staff to conduct “an extensive analysis of the pa st 10 years of U.S. Soccer’s financials.” He said the analysis was “reviewed by an independent accounting firm.” The analysis showed that the women’s team was paid more than the men’s team.
The fact sheet includes bulleted information about the different pay structures for the men’s and women’s teams. USSF claimed that it paid “women $34.1 million in salaries and game bonuses and we paid our men $26.4 million — not counting the significant additional value of various benefits that our women’s players receive but which our men do not.”
For example, the women’s team has a guaranteed salary thanks to their collective bargaining agreement with USSF. They receive 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. Male soccer players do not have such an agreement.
That agreement means women soccer players earn a guaranteed salary of $167,500 to $172,500 each year. On top of that, they are paid bonuses. The men’s team only earns bonuses. Yes, those bonuses can be larger, but that’s because they don’t have the guaranteed base salary. The women’s team, according to USSF, also receives benefits including a 401(k) plan and health insurance, as well as maternity leave and injury protection. The men’s team does not receive any benefits.
Finally, USSF points out that the “hypothetical per game comparison” making the media rounds isn’t even plausible. Neither the men’s nor the women’s teams have ever played 20 friendly matches in a year, yet this is what the hypothetical scenario is based on.
“That said, if the men and women ever did play in and win 20 friendlies in a year and were paid the average bonus amount, a women’s player would earn more from U.S. Soccer than the men’s player — the women’s player would earn at least $307,500 (WNT and NWSL salaries, plus game bonuses) and the men’s player would earn $263,333 (game bonuses only),” USSF claimed.
A shocking claim included in the USSF fact sheet are statistics showing the women’s team has actually lost USSF money:
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).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.
A spokeswoman for the women’s team called the fact sheet a “ruse” and a “sad attempt” to halt the lawsuit.
“The USSF fact sheet is not a ‘clarification.’ It is a ruse,” said team spokeswoman Molly Levinson, according to Fox News. “Here is what they cannot deny. For every game a man plays on the MNT he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination.”
Levinson did not address the fact that the men’s team does not actually have a base salary.