Leveling the soccer field
Equal pay for equal work has been one justification cited by those who believe the U.S. Soccer Federation’s World Cup-winning women’s team should be paid as much as those on the men’s team. But that is misleading:
In an important way, the women are doing more valuable work.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, has introduced a bill aimed at pressuring the USSF to increase what it pays female soccer players. His measure, if enacted, would prevent use of any federal funds to support the 2026 World Cup contests, scheduled to be held in the United States.
Manchin’s decision apparently came after he received a letter from Nikki Izzo-Brown, head coach of West Virginia University’s Women’s Soccer Team. Her missive pointed out that the USSF women’s team brings in more revenue than the male squad. And, in World Cup competition this year, the women were watched by 14.3 million people — compared to 11.4 million for the men.
Izzo-Brown concluded her letter by stating what seems obvious, that “it is wrong for the US Soccer women to be paid and valued less for their work because of their gender.”
All that may be resolved by a lawsuit filed by many of the women, who decided to take the USSF to court in an attempt to receive the same pay as the men.
It is pointed out often that in sports, male players often are paid more than women because more people pay to watch them. In other words, the pay is not equal because the work done by female athletes is not as productive financially — or, so goes the argument.
Fine. What about the soccer players, where the women are bringing in more money and, frankly, doing much more than the USSF men’s team to popularize their sport in this country? By the conventional wisdom, the women should be paid more.
Manchin’s bill may or may not gain traction in Congress. But his goal in introducing it is right on target. As he put it, it is an attempt to “finally create a level playing field for all.”