Not long ago one of the biggest headlines in sports was the potential of a walkout from the USA Women’s soccer squad over salary and benefits disputes. After a strong PR campaign, it appears that the women won their fight and now their supporters are celebrating … for the most part.
The ladies are getting a well-earned raise, as well as larger bonuses and, another sticking point request, the same per diems as the guys.
The agreement comes after a new labor deal was struck between the players and US Soccer. In addition to the big issues such as pay and bonuses, the women’s team will also be granted “better hotel and travel accommodations,” according to an announcement published in various media outlets.
The deal runs through 2021, and, while that doesn’t seem like a long time, three or four years in the world of sports at this level can be an entire career. The time frame is more important, however, in that it will include two of the sport’s highest profile events, the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the 2020 Olympics.
While the deal was, correctly, positioned as an issue related to a gender-based pay gap, a closer inspection proves that it’s not as much about gender equality as it is about teammate equality. Several of the stars on the women’s team – given their huge brand presence – already earn more than many of the players on the men’s squad, but the other women were not as properly compensated, despite routinely playing more games than the guys … by virtue of the fact that they tended to go deeper in international tournaments … though most folks were too polite to say so.
But, when you look at the win-loss records, it’s fairly obvious. The women’s team not only goes deeper in tournaments, they won the Women’s World Cup in 2015. Despite these obvious reasons, US Soccer defended the lower salaries and fewer benefits by arguing that the guys bring in more money, so they should get more cash. Not a bad argument, but the women countered with: we’re a better product, which means a great deal in world competition. And that proved to be the more powerful position. Despite the noise about the men making more money, US Soccer realizes what it has in the women’s team … so they agreed to pay.
Now, thanks to the across the board deal, players at every level will see their pay packets increased and enjoy better benefits. A good win for the women, and, really for all of soccer.