Bridging the Gender Pay Gap in Professional Sports

The success of the U.S. Women’s National Team in the Women’s World Cup has re-invigorated the debate over the gender pay gap in sports. The champions pulled in just $2 million in prize money — compared with the $35 million Germany earned for winning the men’s tournament last year. Every one of the 32 men’s teams earned at least $8 million in 2014 just for participating. Now there is a statistic that needs to be drastically altered.

Pay disparity isn’t anything new in women’s sports, and certainly not in women’s soccer. It’s a global issue that has continued for far too long!

It’s one thing to go after pay gaps in regular-season salaries among different leagues, but the disparity in World Cup payouts is especially stark, with the prize money in both tournaments determined by a single body: FIFA. For the men’s World Cup, FIFA awarded a total of $576 million to 32 teams, while giving just $15 million to 24 squads in the women’s World Cup. Ultimately, the

Indeed, the message FIFA seems to be sending is that it values its worst men’s players at least four times more than its best women. This is completely unjust and unacceptable by today’s standards.

An American senator by the name of Patrick Leahy, has introduced a resolution calling for FIFA to pay men and women equally and “to treat all athletes with the respect and dignity those athletes deserve.” He has also called upon other organisations at both national and international level to do the same.

Although it seems an admirable goal, it does not seem the type of advocacy that will bring about instant results and change. Although, with that being said, he does promote a good point, demonstrating that there is a model for how the pay gap may be closed in sports. Since 2007, all four Grand Slam tennis tournaments have awarded equal prize money to the men and the women, with the U.S Open having had pay equality since 1973, thanks to Billie Jean King and her work with the Women’s Tennis Association, which she herself founded. Furthermore, it hasn’t altered the overall payouts; both singles champions in this year’s US Open made a record $3.3 million, which is a 10% increase from last year’s tournament.

However ultimately, there is no convincing some people who automatically assume female athletes to be inferior that they deserve to be rewarded on par with the men.

But if sports organizations such as FIFA did a better job at promoting its women’s teams, there would be more money to go around to everyone for everyone, EQUALLY. Equal prize money is a good place to start, and also the idea that the acknowledgment that the sport values is not women nor men, but champions.

Diahann x

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