What a game! Thank you, thank you, US Women's National Team (USWNT)!
US Women's Soccer was born in the 80s after the landmark 1972 Title IX legislation which outlawed gender based discrimination in federally-funded education programs. This coincided with the rise of women's soccer on the global stage. In their very first international match the USWNT placed 4th at the 1985 Mundialito Cup in Italy. Not a bad showing considering they were so early in their journey. By 1986, UNC-Chapel Hill's coach Anson Dorrance was hired to lead the national team. He made the momentous decision to give playing time to teenage players Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Kristine Lilly over the more seasoned players. In the inaugural 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup, US won the championship, yet received little attention.
Fast forward to 2019, after three World Cup wins - in '91, '99' and '15 - we are riveted again watching the team take on the formidable Dutch team. The 1999 final had a massive viewership and was the turning point for women's soccer, with 90,185 watching US beat China in the final at the Rose Bowl. For me, the 1991 win - at the end of which Brandi Chastain was on her knees after pulling off her shirt - will remain a moment I will not easily forget!
This year the USWNT players take home $4M for being the champions. And the rest of the teams will split a total of $26M million in prize money from FIFA. That is a mere 7.5% of the Men’s World Cup prize pool of $400 million in 2018. 7.5%!! There's a shining example of pay disparity. The good news I can find (from Forbes) is that the Women's World Cup brought in 73M in revenue of which 13% went to the players whereas the men got 9% of the 4B revenue haul from their most recent World Cup. The bottom line is that until more of us attend, watch, and buy more women's soccer merchandise, the women, no matter their greatness, are not going to get paid more. With that thought, I am going to order USWNT merch right away.
Thank you to the starting lineup - Rapinoe, Lavelle, Press, Morgan, Heath, Lloyd, Ertz, Krieger, Pugh, Dahlkemper, and Naeher - and to the entire team for the thrill of a lifetime and a FOURTH World Cup!