Congress questions USWNT pay inequality on eve of World Cup Final

Over 50 members of Congress have penned a letter to the US Soccer Federation regarding an imbalance in pay between the country's male and female teams

More than 50 members of the United States Congress have added their signatures to a letter demanding answers from the US Soccer Federation regarding inferior wages paid to the country’s female footballers.

The letter, sent to US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro and led by Rep. Jackie Speier, asks several questions of the Federation as the USWNT prepare to take on the Netherlands in Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final in Lyon.

The showcase fixture will mark the fifth occasion the US have reached the final since 1991, as they aim to lift the trophy for a record fourth time at Parc Olympique Lyonnais. 

Included in the letter was a request for information regarding how Cordeiro plans to address institutionalised gender discrimination, as well as an appeal for details on what the organisation is doing to promote the most successful team in the game’s history.

Despite US women’s games outstripping their male counterparts in terms of total revenue generated for the past three years, female players’ base salary remains $30,000 less.

World Cup bonuses are also diminished, with male players landing some $55,000 compared to a figure of $15,000 for women, while the game’s authorities handed the men’s team a $5.4 million bonus after their round of 16 exit at the 2014 World Cup – some $3.7m more than they handed the female squad after they lifted the trophy a year later.

Such disparity has caught Congress’ attention – none more so than Rep. Kathy Castor, who added to the official letter by saying: “What more will it take for our players to receive the recognition and compensation they deserve?”

To compound their claims, kit supplier Nike recently revealed that the US Women’s shirt has become the highest-selling jersey they’ve ever sold in one season online. 

“The USWNT is the most successful team in women’s soccer history, winning World Cup titles in 1991, 1999 and 2015; winning four Olympic gold medals; and holding the No. 1 ranking entering the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup,” reads the letter.

“However, despite doing the same job as the U.S. Men’s National Team, USWNT players are receiving inferior wages, working conditions, and investment from U.S. Soccer.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer added: “Discrimination (is) staring us all in the face. These women, who inspire our country with their poise, tenacity, skill and excellence every time they take the field deserve to be fairly compensated.”

The USWNT fought for and received a raise in 2017, when players saw an undisclosed salary hike

What is clear, however, is that despite the pay rise, the USWNT still make drastically less than the men's team, even though they are far more successful.