Huston: U.S. Women’s Soccer Pay Gap with Men’s Team Exists for a Reason

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With the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team vying for the World Cup in France this month, many are stirring the argument over the pay gap between the women’s and U.S. Men’s teams.

But is it “sexism,” or does that pay gap exists for a reason?

The pay gap became a theme for the women’s team on Twitter this week after the USWNT’s 13-0 demolition of Thailand. Many claim that the women are not paid as much as the men due to sexism.

For one, Democrat candidate for president, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, used the situation to flog accusations of sexism saying that the U.S. team’s big win over Thailand on Tuesday proved the women deserve to be paid as much as the men.

The question was even posed to President Trump by NBC’s Peter Alexander who asked Trump what he thought of the women’s 13-0 blowout win over Thailand, Yahoo reported.

Trump replied happily that it was a “big win,” but when Alexander asked about the pay gap, Trump punted saying, “we’ll talk about that later.”

But the pay gap is not a binary discussion. It is not simply a matter of sexism and bias applied to female players. The real reason the U.S. men’s team players make more money is because the men’s World Cup generates many millions more in revenue than the women’s team.

There isn’t just a disparity of earnings in the U.S., either. For instance, in 2010 the Women’s World Cup brought in $73 million in revenue. But that same year the Men’s World Cup earned a whopping $4 billion, according to NBC Sports.

Indeed, it gets even more complicated when looking at what the players themselves earned in 2010. The men earned nine percent of the total $4 billion in World Cup revenue when all was said and done. On the other hand, the female players were actually paid thirteen percent of the total revenue for the Women’s World Cup.

The total revenue brought in by men’s soccer and women’s soccer has not closed much since 2010, either.

Last year, for instance, the winners of the Men’s World Cup were awarded a whopping $38 million to split up between them. Meanwhile, the winner of the 2019 Women’s World Cup will only get $4 million to split up, the Washington Examiner reported.

But a look at the impact of the two tournaments is telling for why that disparity might exist. The number of viewers of the two tournaments is a key figure to show why the men make more money. In 2018, the Men’s World Cup garnered 3.6 billion total viewers across the world. That viewership brought $6 billion in profits to FIFA, the international soccer league. On the other hand, the last Women’s World Cup in 2015 only saw 764 million viewers. That is a huge disparity.

The fact is, men’s soccer brings more fans and more of the fan’s money to the sport. Female soccer players are not paid less because of sexism or bias. It is a simple matter of capitalism.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.


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