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The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) are world champions yet again.
This American team’s impact will be felt far beyond the 2019 tournament.
Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl wrote about the tournament, and he also spoke to former USWNT captain Julie Foudy about it.
This World Cup produced record numbers of viewers for women’s soccer in countries around the world, including Brazil (where 35 million people watched the France-Brazil round-of-16 game), China, France, England, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The USWNT now has an impact there, too.
“In ’99, we envisioned this as a catalyst that would spark a global movement, but the reality is I think it was a domestic one,” said Foudy. “I see the 19ers as responsible for a global movement. We’re seeing the numbers, but even beyond that, they set an example for women on standards of expectations. There are so many countries who are finally standing up and saying this isn’t right, and they have the courage as a player to stand up in one of these countries and say, ‘This needs to be better, not just for us but for the next generation.’ I think a lot of that comes from them seeing this U.S. group do this at a level that’s unprecedented.”
And this year, the tournament was political. After winger Megan Rapinoe said she wouldn’t visit the White House, should the American women win the tournament (expletive omitted), the president hit back, tweeting:
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven’t yet…..invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”
Meanwhile, members of the team have filed a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation “alleging they are paid less than the men and are provided with less support, despite their consistent outstanding performance,” according to The Washington Post..
But The Post’s fact-checker also noted that claims female players are always paid less than men need more context.
When it comes to revenue from games, the women’s national soccer team has held its own against the men’s team since the 2015 World Cup win. But games account for only one-quarter of USSF revenue. Sponsorships make up half, and it’s hard to determine what the women’s team contributed to USSF without more data.
Are the women players paid less? Sometimes. When the female players have appeared to make about the same or more money, they’ve had to turn in consistently outstanding performances on the world stage. Even with those feats, earning the same amount as the men’s soccer players was near-impossible under the previous collective-bargaining agreement.
The new agreement has provisions that may reduce the difference in bonuses for friendly games and tournaments, but there is — without question and for whatever reasons — still a massive gap between men’s and women’s World Cup bonuses.
As the nation celebrates the womens’ latest World Cup victory, we’ll talk about the off-field battles that are still being fought.
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