Apparently, there’s an explanation for that too. And it’s a familiar one: The league compensates men and women differently.
For instance, women receive a higher base salary than men—around $72,000 annually. But women only receive a per game bonus if they win during the 20 “friendly” matches played outside of competitive tournaments. Men receive a bonus just for playing, and they get a larger bonus for winning. And when it comes to bigger international competitions, the discrepancies can be stark. Men, for instance received more than $50,000 for making the World Cup roster, while women receive only $15,000. U.S. Soccer argues that these figures are based, in part, on the fact that men and women’s leagues have different requirements and schedules. They say that the men’s team produces revenue and ticket sales that are double what they are for the women’s team, which means that players on the men’s team reap the benefits through revenue-sharing agreements.
Another piece of this is the money coming from FIFA, the body that controls international competition, including the World Cup. For getting booted in the round of 16, the men’s team was awarded $9 million by FIFA. For winning the World Cup, the women’s team took home $2 million. The USSF says that the additional compensation that the teams receive from FIFA plays a huge role in how salaries are doled out to the national teams. And for men, there’s simply much more money.
But aside from the revenue differences from ticket sales and FIFA, there are also pay discrepancies at the national level that seemingly could, and should, be easily, and quickly remedied. For example, when participating in international games, each player on the men’s team is given a $75 per diem, while members of the women’s team receive only $60. And women are paid less for their public appearances too. That’s not because women eat less, or because their time isn’t worth as much, but it is due in part to differences in the two group’s collective bargaining agreements with U.S. Soccer. The men’s team successfully negotiated pay raises for these fees in their 2015 collective bargaining agreement, but the women’s team never renegotiated their CBA after its expiration in 2012. This same agreement is where choices about salaries versus pay-for-play arrangements were made. Instead of negotiating a new CBA, the women’s team signed a revised memorandum, that kept the terms of their old CBA until a new one was put in place, at the close of 2016.
And that too, has been a source of controversy of late. Recently, a judge ruled that the guiding document that the women’s team signed upon expiration of their collective-bargaining agreement in essence acts as an agreement until a new one is signed. That means that the women don’t in fact have the legal right to use some forms of leverage, like a player’s strike —which is disallowed under their previous contract—in order to persuade the league to meet their demands.