They have been fighting each other for over four years. Multiple processes. Tons of newspaper articles and countless hours of broadcast debates. In fact, everyone stopped long enough for the US women's national team to win the FIFA Women's World Cup, but then resumed the confrontation. The USWNT won mainly in the court of public opinion, but more recently in the USA prevailed in court.
This enduring dispute was no small factor in the recent resignation of U.S. football president Carlos Cordeiro, who left that position in March after it was revealed that the federation had, in the file, argued against the women's team receiving a salary just like the male team because, in so many words, they are not as fast or strong.
It recently produced a rare defeat for the USWNT, two-time World Cup champion and winners of 20 consecutive games, when Federal Judge R. Gary Klausner decided that women could not argue that they were denied equal pay when negotiating an award. contract structure different in form and substance than the USMNT receives.
This did not end the lawsuit. Both sides are still at it, but the outcome of last week’s decision offers a time not only to negotiate a deal, which is long overdue, but also another opportunity for each to understand their biggest obstacle to a reasonable outcome – in fact, the one. favorable to both parties – it is not each other, but the world.
In the world, we understand FIFA, the body that governs football on this planet Earth.
When it comes to reasonable pay for international female football players, there is no more obvious culprit than the organization that runs the world game. And yet, there is almost never a public proclamation by the USWNT or US Soccer about the inequality that exists between the two main World Cups, which is irritatingly unfair and, however, in accordance with FIFA procedures.
How much is the Women's World Cup worth? Probably nobody knows, because the way in which FIFA manages the event, in particular the mediation of media rights, ensures that this question cannot be answered with the kind of accuracy that is expected from such monumental events.
But this is clear: it is worth much more than FIFA you imagine.
For years, FIFA has collected the rights to its various world tournaments – not just the men's and women's World Cups, but also its junior events – under the assumption that the FIFA World Cup is what competitors are looking for.
For decades, this may have been a reasonable assumption, due in part to the absence of a Women's World Cup until 1991. And it may even have been fair until 1999, when the USWNT led by Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Julie Foudy drew a more of 90,000 viewers in the Rose Bowl and 17.9 million viewers in the US for winning over China in the title game. It was clear that there was value in the Women's World Cup.
FIFA continued to ignore this development, and nowhere is this more apparent than the cash prize made available to men and women. When Russia 2018 was contested and attracted a global audience of 3.57 billion for the month of an attractive football competition, participants were paid with a $ 400 million prize.
When France 2019 was contested and attracted a global audience of 1 billion, participants were paid with a pool of $ 30 million.
FIFA is telling us that the men's World Cup is worth 13.3 times more than the women's. The public is telling us that men are worth 3.57 times more.
If someone followed the audience here, the prize for the Women's World Cup would be closer to $ 112 million. Now, the men's event has sold more tickets, and usually at higher prices. However, there is no denying that FIFA has not even achieved a reasonable balance in the most recent cycle.
And promising to double the prize in 2023, which FIFA has, is not enough to deal with the disparity – because the number of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in 2022 in Qatar is scheduled to increase by 10%, to $ 440 million. The "audience fee" prize calculation for the next women's tournament would increase to $ 123 million.
FIFA is not scheduled to be halfway through a justifiable division in another three years.
Winning last summer's tournament took $ 4 million to U.S. Soccer. If the prize was fair, the USWNT's share would have been closer to $ 15 million. Participating players would have been richly rewarded.
That's why FIFA needs to be the next target in the USWNT's fight for fair wages.
Because that's where the money is and where a lot of it is. For a while.