Op-Ed: In U.S. Soccer, Parity is Long Overdue

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Equal Gender Balance And Parity. Job Pay Equality

After six years of legal battles, last May, the U.S. women’s soccer team won its lawsuit for equal pay. It’s about darn time, with U.S. Soccer agreeing to pay the women a $24 million settlement.

The case is now over, but it remains important to acknowledge the team’s struggles.

The women’s team should have always had parity. That it took over 6 years for this to finally happens just shows the under-appreciation for these talented women—all because of their gender.

According to The New York Times, in February 2016, the US women’s soccer team filed a complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which ignored the filing. Later that year, this prompted players to file a new complaint with a district judge, who expelled the complaint, thereby defending pay disparity between professional male and female teams.

In the end, the women won not just a World Cup title, but also justice toward seeking parity.”

However, repeated dismissal did not discourage the players, who had enough of not being taken seriously by their bosses and the legal system. In 2019, the players filed a discrimination lawsuit, almost exactly four months before the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Coincidentally, the lawsuit was filed on March 8, National Women’s Day.

After the women won France’s 2019 World Cup, according to ESPN, enthusiastic cheers of “equal pay” could be heard from the crowd. Unfortunately, the show of support wasn’t enough to change the significant pay difference between the women’s and men’s teams, including for World Cup bonuses.

While the men’s team did not win, the team still received $36 million in bonuses, while the women’s team, which won, received just $5 million by comparison.

This was frustrating for the women’s team, and many supporters and members spoke out against the injustice. It’s extremely angering to see the higher-ups ignore the team’s wants and needs, which clearly how women in professional sports are seen as inferior to their male counterparts. After the huge win at the World Cup, of course the team should have been rewarded for their accomplishments.

But, unfortunately, “[the men’s team] get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships,” former women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo told The New York Times.

While there were setbacks to the US women’s soccer team’s cause, they eventually succeeded. Reporting from both sides of this case tells us there will be a $22 million lump sum for the athletes.

This massive win for the U.S. women’s soccer team has already had an enormous impact, inspiring other countries’ athletes, including Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands, to fight for equal pay in their respective sports.

“This will completely change the landscape of the women’s game in the country forever,” Megan Rapinoe, the former U.S. women’s soccer team’s winger, to ESPN.

In the end, the women won not just a World Cup title, but also justice toward seeking parity. Nothing can stop these women, and their resilience should be a beacon for other sports teams in different leagues.