US Women Soccer Players Demand Equal Pay

08 July, 2019

American fans loudly cheered to victory the United States women's soccer team in the World Cup final Sunday in France.


The U.S. women beat the team from The Netherlands 2-0 in Lyon, France. It was the U.S. team's fourth World Cup championship win.

Leslie Taylor was visiting France from North Carolina. She was joyful with the result.

"What a legacy to continue and carry on for the U.S. women's soccer team. It's awesome...oh my gosh, so proud to be an American right now. And to be a woman — yes!"

The US Women's soccer teams celebrates their victory over the Netherlands. July 7, 2019
The US Women's soccer teams celebrates their victory over the Netherlands. July 7, 2019

The competition has been about much more than sports. The American team took legal action against the U.S. Soccer Federation for sex discrimination. The team has demanded the same pay as the much less successful U.S. men's team.

The pay difference is major. U.S. professional women soccer players make about $30,000 less a year than U.S. men's team players.

But, an even sharper earnings difference comes in bonus pay. The soccer federation gave the women's team an extra $1.7 million when it won the Cup in 2015. Yet, a year earlier, it had awarded the men's team $5.4 million dollars after it lost in round 16 of the competition.

The women players now will negotiate to try to settle their pay dispute with the federation.

Shouts of "U-S-A" were not the only sounds heard in France Sunday.

Members of the crowd watching the Cup yelled about the issue. Many shouted "Boo!" and "Equal Pay!" as FIFA chief Gianni Infantino arrived at the sports center for the final game.

In Paris, Americans like 23-year-old Jesse Kovacs, say the women should get paid more.

"They deserve way more than they get already, in comparison to the men's team and everything else. Hopefully this provides even more context and more reasoning to give them equal if not more — because they are more successful than the men's team. And it's not remotely close."

Thirteen-year-old Camryn Kreitman agrees.

"If it's the same sport and the women are really good, they should get the same amount of money."

The U.S. men's team did not qualify for the men's World Cup in 2018. It lost Sunday to Mexico 1-0 in the final match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Celebrations for the U.S. women's team will continue in the U.S. on Wednesday. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has invited the players to a traditional parade in Manhattan.

American President Donald Trump invited the players to visit the White House, his home and headquarters, whether the team won or lost. But, before play began Sunday, team star Megan Rapinoe announced she would not make such a visit. Trump criticized the soccer player's decision. He wrote on Twitter that Rapinoe should not "disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team."

Shortly after the game, Trump tweeted: "Congratulations to the U.S. Women's Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!"

Rapinoe also criticized FIFA before Sunday's match, suggesting soccer's governing body was not doing enough to grow the women's game. She pointed to the unequal prize money, and holding the final on the same day as other championships.

The Americans were never behind in the competition, and set records with 26 goals and a 12-game World Cup winning streak going back to 2015.

I'm Anne Ball.

Anne Ball wrote this story VOA Learning English, with information from VOA News and the Associated Press. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

legacy – n. something that happened in the past or that comes from someone in the past

awesome – adj. causing feelings of fear and wonder : causing feelings of awe

bonus – n. an extra amount of money that is given to an employee

deserve – v. used to say that someone or something should or should not have or be given something

context – n. the words that are used with a certain word or phrase and that help to explain its meaning

remotely – adv. to a very small degree

winning streak – n. winning without losing many times in a row