USWNT Enters World Cup On Heels Of Gender Inequality Debate
The USWNT enters the FIFA World Cup in France this week "on a double-mission: to win a fourth trophy at the deepest women’s tournament in history, and shine the spotlight on issues of gender inequality in the sport," according to Michelle Kaufman of the MIAMI HERALD. Members of the team in March "filed a class action suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation," claiming it "discriminates on the basis of gender as it relates to pay scale." Although there has been "some change" since the filing, USWNT F Megan Rapinoe and other players "don’t think it’s enough." FIFA has "doubled the pool of Women’s World Cup winnings" from $15M to $30M, but a "massive gap between men and women remains." Meanwhile, Norwegian F Ada Hegerberg, the reigning women’s player of the year, is on strike against her national federation over what she "perceives as unequal treatment of the women’s team there." She will "not play in the World Cup." The German national team, along with sponsor Commerzbank, "released a cheeky 90-second ad that touches on gender inequality." USWNT F Carli Lloyd: "We’ve seen the women’s game grow tremendously on the pitch. We’ve also seen it grow off the pitch. You are seeing other federations support their teams more and more. It’s massive. It’s growing and growing, and that’s what we want to see" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 6/3).
PICK UP THE PACE: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour writes there has been a "marked shift" in the USWNT's players' "quest for equity." Setting an example and "hoping others follow is no longer enough." Armour: "They’re pushing for money, from stakeholders and others with the power to change the narrative" (USA TODAY, 6/4). NBC Sports soccer analyst Kyle Martino said that things are "moving in the right direction toward a more equitable situation for the women, but not quickly enough." Martino: "The case is that they’re not given the share they deserve and it’s because of their gender. I want us to be the type of country that goes over the line. Let’s be the first country to say our female players deserve a dollar for every dollar we pay the men when they represent our country" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/3 issue).
NOT JUST AN AMERICAN PROBLEM: In Sydney, Emma Kemp writes the Australian women's national team has "gone nuclear in their fight for improved Women's World Cup prizemoney, launching a formal public campaign to pressure" FIFA into bridging the pay gap. Australia's players' union has "warned the world governing body it will use legal means if necessary to extract what rightfully belongs to the national women's team." A new website under the slogan "Our Goal Is Now" will "lead the charge." Professional Footballers Australia last October "joined multiple other players associations in writing to FIFA to seek consultation around an increase in the prize purse" for this summer's World Cup. The PFA wrote again to FIFA last week to "reiterate it will not let the matter slide on the eve of the tournament" (Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH, 6/4).
ON THE ICE: U.S. women's hockey LW Kendall Coyne Schofield said of the struggle to make competing for her country and professional team economically viable, "It’s time-consuming, and it’s stressful and scary. It’s very hard to train at your highest level with all these emotions inside of you. You just want to go to your training session and come out and know everything is going to be okay and not have to continue the fight and talk about what we need more or what wasn’t available after practice. There has to come a time when women’s sports is not an afterthought; it is a thought alongside men’s sport. When are we done being pioneers?” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/3).