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U.S. Women's Soccer Team Becomes Cuomo's Anecdote For Pay Equality. There's Just One Problem.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Wednesday signed legislation that would eliminate the gender wage gap. The signing took place during a parade for the United States' women's soccer team, who won the World Cup over the weekend.


The women's soccer team appeared alongside Cuomo to push for the gender wage gap to be eliminated because there's a pay difference in how the men and women's teams are paid.

From USA Today (emphasis mine):

The U.S. Soccer Federation wrote in a court filing that the two groups are paid differently due to differences in their collective-bargaining agreements. The men collectively bargained for what the federation calls a "pay-for-play" structure that is incentive-laden. The women's collective bargaining agreement includes guaranteed salaries and benefits.

According to The Washington Post, which cited copies of both agreements, female U.S. soccer players can sign contracts that provide an annual salary of $100,000 and additional bonuses for wins and ties. The men do not get annual salaries, but they get larger bonuses per game — including a guarantee of $5,000 even if they lose.

Under these structures, according to the newspaper, a female player who played (and won) 20 exhibition matches would receive just 89% of what a male player would get under the exact same circumstances. If both players lost all 20 matches instead, the payment would be the same for both groups: $100,000.

The World Cup payout has less to do with U.S. Soccer and more to do with FIFA, the sport's governing body.

According to FIFA's 2018 Financial Report, the organization awarded $400 million in total prize money to participating soccer federations for the 2018 World Cup. Portions of those funds are generally then passed along to players. The team that won the event, France, received $38 million from FIFA.

According to the same report, FIFA was slated to award $30 million in total prize money for the 2019 World Cup, with the champion — the U.S. — netting $4 million. That's 10.5% of what the men's World Cup champions received.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said last week that he wants to double the prize money for the 2023 women's World Cup, to $60 million — but the prize pool for 2022 men's World Cup is also going to increase, to $440 million, so the gap would widen nevertheless.


The women's team have been outspoken proponents of equal pay, especially after they filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The women accused the Federation of "institutionalized gender discrimination." Specifically, the team took issue with inequity in pay, practice time, practice locations, medical treatment, coaching and travel, The Hill reported.

"You should get paid the same amount whatever the job is. These are women's soccer players. They play the same game that the men's soccer players play. By the way, they play it better," Cuomo said during a press conference. "New Yorkers — all 19 million — we stand united: Equal rights, men, women. We're going to make it a legal reality in the state of New York."

Cuomo defended the women's soccer team, saying they deserve more than they received. 

“There is no rationale why the women should not get paid what men get paid,” he said during the bill signing.“It is immoral. It is unethical. New York is going to lead the way and we say to the U.S. Soccer League, and we say to FIFA, if you don’t pay women what you pay men, then you have no business in the state of New York.”

If the women's team wants to make the same amount of money as their male counterparts then something has got to give. Either they give up their annual, guaranteed salaries and get paid based on their wings and losses or they keep it how it is. It's really not that hard to figure out.


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