On Sunday, July 7, the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team made history when they clinched their fourth (!) World Cup championship with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands. The team's victory in the 2019 FIFA World Cup has inspired tons of people across the country, and even better, their demands for equal pay for equal work has restarted a national conversation about pay equality. As the team continues to demand change, Tomi Lahren's tweet about the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) and pay equality missed the mark on a few significant points.
In March 2019, members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, alleging pay discrimination. The lawsuit claimed that top-tier female soccer players made 38% of what top-tier male soccer players made a year. U.S. Soccer denied allegations of gender discrimination, saying that any pay differences were based on "differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex." In June, the USWNT and U.S. Soccer have agreed to mediation to work out salary negotiations and keep the suit out of court.
FOX Nation host Tomi Lahren apparently agrees with the revenue argument, though. On July 10, she took to Twitter to weigh in on the situation. She wrote,
Female soccer players make less because Women’s Soccer generates less revenue. Oh the moral outrage! Sorry, truth hurts.
A few hours later she tweeted again, saying that, "Playing soccer makes you an athlete and that’s fantastic but it doesn’t make you a hero." OK.
Lahren may claim that female soccer players "generate less revenue," but that's not necessarily true. Because of the way U.S. Soccer makes its money, it's difficult to make a straightforward comparison, but by many metrics women are bringing in as much as — if not more than — their male counterparts.
According to The Washington Post, only about a quarter of the revenue for U.S. Soccer comes from games, but in recent years the women have steadily matched the men in terms of bringing in the bucks with games. Per the Post, since 2016 the women's team has brought in half or close to half of all revenue from games, and from fiscal year 2016 to 2018 women's games generated about $900,000 more in revenue than men's games. In the year after their 2015 World Cup win, the women's teams outpaced the men by $1.9 million.
When it comes to merchandise revenue, things are looking good for the ladies, as well. On July 3, Nike confirmed that sales of the USWNT jerseys have exceeded all other U.S. soccer jerseys, including men's teams, according to ESPN. According to Nike, the USWNT home jerseys are the top selling soccer jersey, men's or women's, ever sold on Nike's website in one season.
And yes, plenty of people watch and care about the game. Per Deadline, 14.3 million U.S. viewers tuned in to the 2019 World Cup final to watch the team score the trophy, a 22% increase over the viewership for the 2018 Men's World Cup final match. Safe to say, people around the country were ready to see the team bring in yet another victory.
For what it's worth, it's admittedly difficult to compare men and women players' salaries due to differences in pay structures. While women make a base salary plus some performance bonuses, the men are paid primarily via bonuses. However, in international tournaments like the World Cup — which is controlled by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), not U.S. Soccer — the gap in prize money is pretty noticeable.
In the 2018 Men's World Cup, the winning team alone walked away with $38 million in prize money, more than the $30 million of prize money for the entire 2019 Women's World Cup, and far more than the $4 million that the actual winners of the 2019 tournament got. The Washington Post points out that per collective bargaining agreements, the men earn $3,000 more for losing a World Cup qualifying match than the women earn for winning the same match.
Lahren may claim that the pay equality isn't an issue here, but her argument appears to be missing a few key elements. One thing for sure, these players are fighting on and off the field.