Sunday’s World Cup win was a time where our country came together to support our team as they competed on the international stage. Maybe Independence Day weekend helped influence the surplus of patriotism, but nonetheless we came together. It’s easy to see why everyone gets excited. We love to win. The problem is that no one cared before about the NWSL (and no one will care for another four years), yet there is an expected large sum of money that should be awarded to each player by the public. After seeing how little these women were making, it was in fact disappointing. However, there is always two-sides to every story.
First, let’s look at the numbers that are causing this outrage. Last year, Germany’s victory in the Men’s World Cup final earned them $35 million. This year the U.S. women earned $2 million. FIFA paid out a total of $576 million to the teams in the Men’s World Cup, nearly 40 times more than the $15 million they paid out for the Women’s World Cup. This means that a team eliminated in the first round of the men’s tournament made about four times the amount the U.S. women made for winning. Each team in the men’s tournament received $1.5 million just for competing, and the U.S. men in particular earned about $8 million for losing in the first elimination round. Of course, to any reader these numbers are going to seem wildly disproportionate and unfair—but why are these the numbers being distributed by FIFA?
Let’s backtrack. How does FIFA even make the money they distribute? Broadcasting rights, sponsorships, etc… The soccer market in America is small, especially the women’s soccer market. FIFA would be crazy to hand out the same amount of prize money! Let’s face it. Men bring in more revenue, therefore they are allocated more money during the tournament. Equal treatment doesn’t necessarily mean equal pay. If the earnings are going to be based off of the percentage of sponsorship revenue, the percentage should remain constant. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Women’s World Cup brought in about $17 million in revenue from sponsorships this year. Compare that to the $529 million that the men brought in for the 2014 World Cup. The US women earned about 11% of their sponsorship revenue, while Germany only earned 6.6% of theirs. So, the women are actually earning a higher percentage of sponsorship revenues.
Just like any other business, if you are not bringing in a lot of money, you’re not going to be getting a lot of money. There is just no money in women’s soccer, and no one can come to a conclusion on what the exact root of the problem is. Are network’s just not promoting soccer, resulting in low viewership? Or, are there just no viewers, which is why the networks are not putting in the money? It all comes down to the fans. If no one is going to the game, there is going to be no sponsorships, or broadcast interest. If there are no sponsorships or broadcast interest, there will be no money to payout. Buying a ticket, or a jersey could be a really great start to seeing a change in the pay gap. So, is it fair to say that we are mostly to blame for the gender pay gap?