By Nehalem Manka EBS CONTRIBUTOR
On July 10, three days after the finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) was honored with a ticker tape parade in Manhattan. People lined the streets to celebrate their team as returning heroes. It was monumental, not just because it signified the USWNT’s emphatic victory in the 2019 World Cup, it also marked their fourth championship in eight World Cup appearances.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup took place from June 7 to July 7 in France. The USWNT played a total of seven games, scored a record-breaking total of 26 goals, and won every single game. They cruised through the group stage with wins over Thailand (13-0), Chile (3-0), and Sweden (2-0).
In the round of 16, they played Spain, winning 2-1 with both goals scored by Megan Rapinoe, her second goal hitting the back of the net with 15 minutes left in the game, securing a late victory. Moving onto the quarterfinal, the USWNT went head to head with the host nation France. This game was regarded by many as a matchup of the best two teams in the tournament. Though France was competitive, the US fought hard and won 2-1, both goals again coming off of Rapinoe’s cleats .
The semifinals pitted the U.S. against England in an evenly matched game. In the end, the U.S. won 2-1, with goals scored by Alex Morgan and Christen Press, respectively in the tenth and thirty-first minute. Their victory against England set them up to face the Netherlands in the championship round.
In a back-and-forth game, the Netherlands was the only team able to keep the U.S. off the scoreboard in the first half. But with relentless pressure in the second half, Megan Rapinoe, who won both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball, and Rose Lavelle each tallied a goal in the last 30 minutes to win the game 2-0.
All in all, the USWNT has been busy this summer and not just on the field. On March 8, International Women’s Day, all 28 members of the team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation claiming “purposeful gender discrimination.” According to the lawsuit, if both teams played and won the same number of “friendly” matches in a year, at most the women would earn $99,000, while on average the men would earn $263,320. It also claims that the U.S. Women’s team generated more revenue “during the period relevant to this case” for U.S. soccer than the men’s team.
The U.S. Soccer Federation denied many of the claims in the lawsuit, yet it does not argue that the men’s team is paid more than the women, noting that the gap is due to “different pay structures for performing different work.” The difference being that the women have won four of the eight World Cups they have competed in, while by comparison, the men have never won in 26 World Cup appearances, not even qualifying for the most recent one. In Olympic competition, four of six gold medals have been won by the U.S. women since women’s soccer was added 1996, while the U.S. men have never won an Olympic competition, an indisputably significant difference in terms of success.
Still, the women continue to fight for equal pay. In actuality, they are working harder to make less while they continue to prove themselves worthy over and over again. Yes, it is hard to compare the performance of the two teams when one is world-class and has been ranked first by FIFA for ten of the last 11 years and the other struggles to qualify for the World Cup every four years.
The USWNT are setting a precedent for excellence, both on and off the field. They will continue to fight hard in order to retain their title as reigning world champions and hopefully they get the pay they deserve. It is no small feat—winning a World Cup—nor is working to close the pay gap, and for that they should be and are widely celebrated.