Sanchez: So, where’s the money?

BY SADIE SANCHEZ | JULY 08, 2015 5:00 AM

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On Sunday, a historic event was broadcast across the globe: the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The soccer match, in which the U.S. faced off against Japan, was the most watched match on English-language television in U.S. history, gathering 24.4 million viewers on Fox, the New York Times reported. That means that more people tuned in to watch a women’s soccer match than any men’s match before it.

This World Cup, in which Team USA dominated Japan, 5-2 — with U.S. captain Carli Lloyd scoring a hat trick in the first 16 minutes — was a landmark moment in women’s soccer history. Yet, something remains not right. If you guessed money, you’re correct.

For this year’s World Cup, FIFA offered up a total of $15 million prize money for the participating teams. The winners — Team USA — earned $2 million of it. This is an almost 50 percent increase from the last Women’s World Cup, which, on paper, sounds like the emerging market it should be.
However, when you compare it with the earnings of their male counterparts, “great” might not be a word that comes to mind.

Last summer, for the Men’s World Cup, FIFA offered an astronomical $576 million for the participating teams. That is nearly 40 times more than it offered the women’s teams.

And what’s more, the men’s teams who lost in the first round were paid four times more than the women’s team that won the entire competition this year (that’s $8 million for every men’s team that loses in the first round and $2 million for the women’s team that beat everyone).

As the number of viewers for last Sunday’s game proves, Americans don’t necessarily care about sex when it comes to their sports — they just want to see good players do what they do best. And good players they have. Abby Wambach, a forward on Team USA, holds the record for most international goals, 160, for both female and male players. If anything, she should be bringing in the biggest chunk of change out of anyone. So why isn’t she?

In today’s political climate, one of the most discussed issues is wage inequality. Women are still earning 78 cents to every man’s $1 for doing the same amount of work. Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have used wage inequality as a major building block for their respective campaigns, expressing their desire to equalize pay between men and women.

And as the numbers above prove, the injustice doesn’t begin and end in cubicles.

For someone who sees a 22-cent difference as not being a big deal, think about a difference of $561 million.

Women in sports train equally as men do, compete as men do, and win as men do. They bleed and sweat and cheer, just like anyone else. Shouldn’t they be rewarded the same?

The colossal market of sports, particularly in regards to an institution such as FIFA (where soon-to-be-former President Sepp Blatter was quoted by The Guardian in 2004 as saying, “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts,” needs to re-examine the way money is distributed between the sexes.

After all, this is the U.S. women’s third World Cup win — three more than the men have.

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