Wage Discrimination in U.S. Soccer

For my second essay, I really wanted to find a topic that I would be passionate about and would be able to incorporate the information and my argument creatively throughout the essay. There was news that just broke recently about five members of the United State Women’s National Soccer team who filed for wage discrimination against United State Soccer, and I think this would be a perfect topic to cover in this essay. To summarize, the men’s and women’s national teams have been paid on unequal scales, with the men receiving about four times as much in salary as the women do. This is pretty much how it has always been, but the women’s team has decided to do something about it, especially considering the level of success the team has had historically and recently. Five players are listed in the action suit – Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Megan Rapinoe – but it is actually made up and supported by all members of the team. With this, these public figures are trying to make an impact off the field as well (for me, it’s amazing to see someone like Carli Lloyd, who trains in my hometown on the same field I grew up on, to take a stand). The main argument against providing equal payment in this situation has been based on the revenues brought in by the men’s, the difference in skill level between the two squads, and how the men’s team viewership dominates the women’s team. However, not all of this is necessarily true anymore – a brief overlook of some of the comparisons shows that the U.S. Soccer Federation predicted a loss for the combined national teams in 2016, but the success of the women’s national team has raised that projection now to $17.7 million in profit. In 2017, the women’s team is expected to net $5 million in profit while the men’s team will be $1 million in the red. Despite this, the compensation for a women’s member after a win in a friendly match is $1,400, while a member of the men’s side receives $17,600 in a win and $5,000 in a loss. So, with this essay, I really want to go deeper and explore this idea of wage discrimination between the men’s and women’s national teams.

To bring in one of our ethical framework to the conversation, I think a deontological theory would allow us to analyze the thoughts and actions of Sunil Gulati (Bucknell represent) and the rest of U.S. Soccer. Rather than focusing on the consequences, a deontological approach allows the user to base their decisions on what is right in terms of universal principles or values. In my mind, I think it’s fair to say that men and women should be paid very similarly when the scenario calls for it. That should be a given, and it certainly fits for our national soccer teams. By breaking down some of the principles that the Federation utilizes to base its actions off of, we can see whether the Federation should change its decision regarding wages. Of course U.S. Soccer can be considered a business, but I still think it has strayed away from doing what is right.

As for the policy area, I think this topic fits into fair and equal wages between genders across all jobs, certainly in the United States, and hopefully all around the world if other countries that aren’t as progressive manage to follow suit. We see this issue of women being paid less than men pop up all around us, but it doesn’t enter our daily conversation, and so there isn’t always a lot being done about it. Some organizations have fought to make equal pay the norm, and the women’s players are another step in that. I hope to analyze some of the progress that has been made in this policy area, and what can be done moving forward. If anyone has any arguments to go against my proposal, definitely let me know in the comments! I really want to take any opposing arguments and see where I can possibly defend against them. Thanks!


Some articles that provide basic information regarding the players’ thoughts and the differences between the men’s and national teams:


Some articles that go deeper into wage discrimination and deontology:


4 thoughts on “Wage Discrimination in U.S. Soccer

  1. I think you have a great case and set of resources.

    The publically available nature of the USSF budget and revenue sources makes this a good case.

    I will admit that a few years ago, when this first came up as an issue, I thought “well, there should be a floor of pay for the women. But if the men’s game attracts more viewers and more ticket sales, then that may be a relevant factor in men getting more.” Now, if it is the case that the women earn MORE as a team, that whole argument is clearly wrong. Part of my thinking was influenced by the several failed women’s leagues in the US.

    Can you find out how much the networks charge for commercials in the WWC? Do they undercharge given viewership?

    I have a friend who follows womens’ soccer more closely who might have some ideas.


    1. Great, thanks Jordi. I’ll definitely do some more research on more specific numbers and how much of the revenue comes from what, so I think that will work well into my essay.

      I don’t know Lloyd personally, but she trains in my hometown and I’ve seen her there, and her trainer is the same one that I had for two years back when I was still playing.


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