The U.S. women's national team may be on course for a historic fourth World Cup title, but they still make a fraction of what their male counterparts make despite having achieved so much more.
The USWNT fought for a raise and received one in 2017, when players saw an undisclosed salary hike.
Despite the pay rise, the USWNT still make drastically less than the men's team, even though they are far more successful. The USWNT have won three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals. The men's team haven’t won an Olympic medal in more than a century, were knocked out at the last-16 phase in the 2014 World Cup and failed to even qualify for the 2018 edition in Russia.
And earlier this year, the USWNT team filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, seeking better pay for women, who reportedly earned 38 per cent of what their male counterparts make .
Their lawsuit stipulated that if each team played and won 20 exhibition games in a year, “female WNT players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while similarly situated male MNT players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game".
Most of the USWNT play at the club level in the National Women's Soccer League (NSWL), with minimum yearly salaries in the region of $16,538, and the maximum salary rising to $46,200 since January 2019.
This means that the minimum salary for NWSL players doesn't meet the living wage. Meanwhile, the minimum yearly salary for the first 24 players on each MLS roster rose from $67,500 in 2018 to $70,250 in 2019. The minimum for remaining players, who must be 24 or younger, was increased from $54,500 in 2018 and $56,250 in 2019.
U.S. Soccer subsidizes the NWSL, which would not exist without its financial support, whereas MLS is self-sufficient. NWSL is in its sixth season and salaries in MLS (now in its 24th season) were similarly low when it was in its infancy.
USWNT compensation works differently than organisations across the world. Usually what happens is that a club pays a player a salary, and the national federation then compensates the player for appearances on the international level. For the USWNT, however, it’s the federation (U.S. Soccer) that pays the club salary; the women then draw a second salary for their national play, which is a departure from the men's team.
Star player Morgan is arguably her country's most recognizable hero, and is reported by Money to be earning upwards of $1 million annually. Morgan's net worth is estimated to be over $3m according to Celebrity Net Worth, and Time named her the highest paid American female soccer player in June 2015, attributed mostly to her endorsement deals, having signed partnerships with businesses like Nike, Panasonic and AT&T among others.
Her teammate Julie Ertz also has an estimated net worth of $3m, but these two are by far the outliers of their team in terms of wages.
Morgan is considered one of the world's greatest female athletes, but Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – who each earn over $100m in salaries – make 100 times more than she does.
It's impossible to calculate what an average USWNT player would make due to their different sponsorship deals and bonuses, but it's fair to say that should they win the World Cup this summer in France, the top players could earn over $400,000 overall this year – with the average possibly coming in closer to $500,000. This also comes before endorsement deals, which can add hundreds of thousands of dollars more for star players.
But this doesn't take into account the significantly smaller cash pool that the Women's World Cup earners are awarded compared to the men's tournament . They will earn just 7.5% of what their male counterparts would earn.
USWNT goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris told the New York Times she expects to earn “between $300,000 and $400,000” in 2019, though another unnamed USWNT player estimated she’d make $167,500.
Former USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo is reported to have earned $240,019 with the national team in 2015 by FiveThirtyEight, compared to USMNT players Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard, who earned $428,022 and $398,495 respectively.
The same outlet says Carli Lloyd made $366,000 in 2015 after adding up all of her bonus money, appearance fees, and other income related to the World Cup and other tournaments. This is an addition to her salary for being on the national team, and what she made for playing in the NWSL. That is almost as much as what Manchester United player Alexis Sanchez makes on a weekly basis, at £350,000 a week ($440,000).
It seems like a decent amount of money, and it is, but it still pales in comparison to what their USMNT counterparts have been making annually.
Twenty-year-old USMNT star Christian Pulisic is set to take a hefty pay rise from his $1.1m per year contract with Borussia Dortmund following his £58m ($74m) move to Chelsea, which made him the most expensive American soccer player of all time.
Toronto FC and USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley earns a $6m salary and $6.5m total compensation.