The women's U.S. soccer team gave our whole country reason to stand up and cheer when they completely overwhelmed and dominated Japan to win the 2015 Women's World Cup. You couldn't log on to social media without running up against someone peeing their pants over the inspiring victory.
What a killer way to wrap up the Fourth of July weekend, right?
Well today many of the girl-power cheers have been drowned out by the crash made as our beloved team did a big, fat header off the old glass ceiling. That's right. Even the badass women of our world champion soccer team earn less than the men, not for doing the same work, for doing far better work.
Let me explain.
FIFA, which runs worldwide professional soccer and the Women's World Cup awarded the U.S. women's team a $2 million first prize for winning the World Cup. And that sounds like a lot of money. Until, that is, you consider the whopping $8 million in prize money awarded to the men’s World Cup teams that lose in the first round. It gets worse. Every single team that takes the field in the Men's World Cup gets a $1.5 million participation prize — just a half a million less than the winners of the Women's World Cup.
It’s time for women to demand pay parity in sports.
And it’s not just soccer. A recent study by the BBC says women get less prize money in 30 percent of all sports. But even that number sounds pretty low.
Take another worldwide high-profile sporting event over the weekend, Wimbledon. Just a few short hours ago Venus and Serena Williams faced off to send Serena to the quarter finals, putting her in position to win her incredible 21st singles Grand Slam title. She’s the best ever. And while Wimbledon gives equal prize money to men and women, they’ve only seen fit to do so since 2007. I have shoes older than that.
And tennis is the sport trying to work hardest toward equal pay. The only two women who make the Forbes list of richest athletes — Maria Sharipova at #26 and Serena at #47 (I call her that because I like to pretend we're friends) — play tennis. It's a sad showing.
And don’t tell me about audience or level of competition. The Women's World Cup final drew a record-breaking more than 21 million viewers — a comparable television audience to Game 7 of the World Series. After the San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year, each player’s bonus share was nearly $400,000. That's on top of an average annual MLB player salary of $4.2 million, plus other crazy perks.
Sports are supposed to be the neutral field where ability and skill are rewarded above all else. It’s time to pay women athletes what they're worth. And time for women to demand what we’re owed.
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