Leveling the playing field

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COLUMBUS, Ga. – In 2015, the US Women’s National Team generated nearly 20 million more dollars in revenue than the mens team.
And their World Cup final was the most watched soccer game in US history, so it begs the question, why were they paid almost five times less than the men?

It’s been a hot topic for a while now; especially in women’s soccer…
over the last 30 years, these athletes have been breaking down barriers and making their sport a staple in American history.
But still, they are nowhere near paid what their counterparts make.

Columbus State soccer coach, Alexa Gaul, played professional soccer and says it’s disheartening.

“You’re making $500 a month. which that’s only 6 months. so you’re getting $300 dollars. So you can’t really live off that. So a lot of my friends live with host families. It’s sad at the same time because your goal as a little kid if you want to continue with soccer, you want to become a professional athlete and then you see what you’re going to be paid. You can’t even buy groceries,” says Gaul.

In 2015, the US women’s soccer team beat Japan to win their third world cup in history. And while they should have been celebrating, five of their star players filed a complaint with the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming that the US Soccer Federation was not paying them enough because, well point blank, they are women.

The fact that you can’t earn a living has forced a lot of the games biggest stars overseas. A lot of male athletes agree that women’s soccer has grown exponentially.

“It’s super, super important to be paid what they deserve. And I think the women have done an unbelievable job. Not just the past 5-6 years. They’ve transcended soccer,” says Zimmerman

“I mean it’s unfortunate but at the end of the day they’re doing what they love. But yeah you want to get paid. You’re doing exactly what the men are doing,” says Gaul.

Welch Suggs is a sports media professor at the University of Georgia. He says there’s a long history of neglecting women sports.

“A lot of people reflexively reject women’s teams sports. They don’t like the way women’s soccer, basketball looks on the court. But I think that’s changing as generations advance. People get used to growing up next to female athletes, female student athletes just as they have for generations for male student athletes,” says Suggs.

In a country where a woman ran to become President, college athletes like Maylyn Parsons still question how this is far.

“Maybe there’s a part of me that wants to pursue a professional career. Don’t necessarily want to hang up my cleats. But I don’t know if that’s going to be an option for me. Because it’s kind of like well you’re not even really valued. You know all of the statistics are that the men are going to get paid more for literally everything that they do. Whether they win a game that they played against the worst team in the world or the best team they’re going to get paid more than the women,” says Parsons.

“And as people start realizing there’s a real value in leveraging the assets that come with the women’s national team. That’s when you’re going to see something closer to pay equity,” says Suggs.

Remember the five women soccer players that filed the discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC? Well, the US Soccer Federation denied their claim saying the Women’s National Team is the highest compensated Women’s National Soccer Team in the world. And they get paid on par with the Men’s National Team.

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