With a number of countries slowly embracing the concept of equal pay in football, it’s high time other countries – and clubs – stand up and take notice that equal pay could be here to stay irrespective of the factors involved
Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji
It’s close to a decade now that the United States of America (USA) Women National Team (USWNT) launched a lawsuit for equal pay. This has led to counties like England, Brazil, Norway following suit by paying men and women football national teams the same take-home pay.
In 2016, USWNT players, among them 2020 Olympians Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Becky Sauerbrunn, filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Two years ago, those players joined others in filing suit in a Los Angeles federal district court, Morgan et al v. U.S. Soccer, and after having their case dismissed in May 2020, the women are now litigating it in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
With the end of the Olympics and the USWNT’s exit with a bronze medal—disappointing, by their standards, to say nothing of public expectations—there’s an end-of-an-era feeling surrounding the team.
In the courtroom, meanwhile, the American women’s case continues, and though they have much of the public on their side, they’re currently losing and could be down to their final chance. Their pleas have received public support from politicians like US President, Joe Biden and some Journalists. Could the team head towards a lost cause?
It is a known fact the USWNT are more successful compared to their male counterparts with four World Cup trophies and four Olympic gold medals which the men’s team can’t boast of.
But revenue from TV viewership for men can’t be compared with that of women’s football including match attendance.
The latest chart by Sportico revealed that US men’s soccer match TV viewership outweighs that of the women’s games from 2008 to 2021, excluding the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Norway announced that they would pay their women’s team the same salaries as their male equivalents, becoming the first football team in the world to do so. They raised the salary of their women’s team by 2.5 million Norwegian kroner (£218,000/$290,000) in 2018. Such parity was able to be achieved following an added contribution of 550,000 kroner by Norway’s male players from commercial activities. It’s not something easily done, but it is achievable.
The Football Association has revealed that it pays women the same appearance money as men when they play for England. Parity on match fees and bonuses for games outside major tournaments has been in place since January, the FA said, in response to a question whether it would follow Brazil in paying male and female players the same for a senior international cap according to The Guardian.
Brazil’s football association had announced both their men’s and women’s national football teams will receive equal salaries and bonuses respectively. The move earned several plaudits across the sporting world prompting other countries to follow suit.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) joined Australia, Norway, and New Zealand in committing to paying their men’s and women’s sides the same amount for earning a cap. The same can also be said about Lewes FC as the first club to pay both men’s and women’s football teams the same take-home pay.
With this development and laudable feat of the USWNT, equal pay is achievable.
The same can’t be said about African clubs and national teams save for Edo Queens and Bendel Insurance in the Nigerian league, paying both teams from the same state a similar amount of money.
The issue of equal pay is here to stay and will continue to be part of the major discussion as far as football is concerned going forward.
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