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Saturday, September 25, 2021

It doesn’t always pay to play

HANNAH LEE / AGGIE
HANNAH LEE / AGGIE

U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team calls for fair pay

Last week, members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team filed a suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming unfair wage discrimination in relation to their male counterparts. The teammates say that, despite bringing in almost $20 million in revenue last year, they make nearly four times less money than the men’s national team.

This is a championship team that represents the United States, and there is blatant discrimination occurring with no reasonable explanation. According to ESPN, the U.S. women’s national team took home “$2 million when it won the World Cup last year,” while a year before in Brazil, the U.S. men’s team “earned a total of $9 million despite going just 1-2-1 and being knocked out in the round of 16.”

These two performances are not even comparable. The women’s performance blew the men out of the water, and they were rewarded $7 million less than the male team.

Wage inequality isn’t the only problem facing the world of professional soccer — there is a glaring lack of respect shown toward women athletes. The 2015 World Cup was played on artificial turf — an injustice that male athletes would never have to consider in a professional setting. Turf can heat up to uncomfortable temperatures and can subject athletes to harsh and unforgiving turf burns.

In another instance, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has long been criticized for his sexist attitude toward women. Blatter, who resigned his position as president in 2015 following accusations of criminal mismanagement, once suggested that female soccer players wear tighter shorts to bring more allure to women’s soccer.

Examples of this overwhelming disrespect toward female athletes can be seen in nearly every sport. In March, the tournament director for the BNP Paribas Open, a high-profile professional tennis match, said that female tennis players “ride on the coattails of the men” and “If I was a lady player, I’d go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport.”

Serena Williams, the No. 1 ranked women’s tennis player in the world, fired back, saying “I don’t think any woman should be down on their knees thanking anybody like that […] we, as women, have come a long way. We shouldn’t have to drop to our knees at any point.”

WNBA player Diana Taurasi recently commented on the suggestion that the women’s basketball rims should be lowered in order to increase excitement of the game, saying, “Might as well put us in skirts and back in the kitchen.”

This even extends to UC Davis, where, most recently, the women’s club rugby team had a national championship game canceled because the fall championship team had graduation the same day. In an op-ed published by The Breakdown about how women who play rugby consistently battle negative stereotypes, senior captain for the UC Davis women’s club rugby team Caroline Sequeira wrote that USA Rugby knew of the scheduling error, but failed to notify other club teams. As a result, along with a “flurry of microaggressions,” Sequeira addresses what looks to be a societal resistance to accepting women rugby players.

“To put in so much effort and come as far as nationals without the promise of a title feels worse than any injury my players have ever had on the pitch,” Sequeira writes. “[I]t feels as if all of [my teammates effort] doesn’t count.”

Gender discrimination in professional and collegiate sports is a systemic problem that must be addressed. For the U.S. Women’s National team, this inequality can begin to be addressed by compensating them fairly for their work and performance. For the club rugby team, the women should be treated with the standards that men’s teams face.

It’s 2016, and it’s about time for women athletes to be given the same recognition and compensation as their male peers.

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