I’m not even a sports fan!

Yet here I am, thinking it might be fun to watch a women’s soccer match. I’m not even talking about the women’s national team — a local team. They deserve support, too, and apparently, women’s teams play a better and more exciting game than men’s.

Then, after the USWNT won the world cup this past weekend, listen to the audience. This is amazing. They’re chanting “equal pay!” in response to the victory.

The discrimination has gotten so obvious that crowds of people are screaming about it. Will anything be done?

This also has me wondering “what about the menz?” The differences are glaring: the women’s team is bringing in more money, is empirically better than the men’s team, and are playing more games than the men, yet they’re getting paid a lot less. If I were on the men’s team, the discrepancies would be making me uncomfortable. But their response so far has mostly been silence. How…odd. I guess solidarity with one’s colleagues is just too much to ask.

(Via Skepchick)


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    Props to Megan Rapinoe. One of the first white athletes to kneel during the anthem. Her federation banned kneeling, so now she simply refuses to sing the anthem or put her hand over her heart. She’s also one of the leaders in the fight for pay equity, and has made her feelings for Trump quite clear. And a world class winger in a squad of unprecedented talent and depth.

    Too bad she and her teammates suffer from the American Disease; being triumphalist obnoxious arseholes. I used to think the German men’s team were insufferable. The American women make them look like paragons of humility.

    Americans just can’t help it, can they? Winning excuses everything. Who else operates like that? Name’s on the tip of my tongue…

  2. Ichthyic says

    being triumphalist obnoxious arseholes

    you don’t have the slightest clue why she is doing this pose in the photo, do you?

    not a clue.

  3. methuseus says

    I’ve gone to see the local college team. They play pretty well and are entertaining. Unfortunately the nearest women’s professional team is a couple hours away and extremely expensive even for nosebleed seats. It would be cheaper to see a football or baseball game probably because of local subsidies for those teams.

  4. methuseus says

    I’m not really sure what you’re on about Rob. They’re definitely not worse than the German team you mentioned. From what I’ve seen they’re no worse than anyone. Are they not supposed to be glad they won?

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    Ichthyic @3: I’m not talking about the photo, ye nit. There’s nothing at all wrong with that.

  6. cartomancer says

    As an English person who hated sport at school, the mere mention of the baneful foot-the-ball amusement is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. But I can see how it might be viewed rather differently by people for whom it is not a pointless national obsession they were raised to despise. Rather like you lot feel about that peculiar armoured Rugby thing.

    But I will say this for the women’s football, it’s a lot more LGBT inclusive than the men’s. There’s great thumping packs of magnificent lesbians in the women’s teams, lezzing it up most triumphantly and not caring who knows. As opposed to the men’s world cup, which had not a single out gay player on any competing team.

  7. Rob Grigjanis says

    methuseus @5: This is Rapinoe scoring and celebrating the US’s ninth goal against Thailand (ranked 34th) in a group stage match.

    This is Germany’s men scoring and celebrating their 6th and 7th goals against Brazil in a WC semi-final.

    Spot the difference? It’s not about men and women. It’s about Americans being douchebags.

  8. blf says

    Is the States boring “sport” women’s national team is so much better than the men’s shiteshow, why is the demand only for equal pay?

    (Yes, I hate soccer, but that is not point.)

  9. lotharloo says

    They deserve support, too, and apparently, women’s teams play a better and more exciting game than men’s.

    I watched a lot of the games and yes I would say it is generally a much better experience than watching men’s soccer. It is true that from a technical point of view, the quality is lower since in most countries women’s soccer is pretty much forgotten, for example, the Argentian team is almost an amateur team because they have lacked coaching, preparation, friendly matches and etc. But, watching men’s soccer is a frustrating experience because it’s all about gaming the system, faking faults to get yellow/red cards for the opponents, faking injuries to get penalties, and all the other bullshit whereas at least currently women actually play football, have very good teamwork. There are no theatrics in women’s football and they play the sport as it is meant to be played and so in overall, it ends up being a much more rewarding sport to watch. You don’t see shit like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5nNHEF80JU
    or like this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiW0IPrv1Ro

  10. ajbjasus says

    My grandma played football in the uk. It was really big after ww1, drawing crowds of tens of thousands. It died a death because as amateurs the women chose to give gate receipts to charity. When that charity was striking miners the toffs at the FA essentially pulled the plug. It has only come back into the public eye recently, and its great to see.

    At the moment the US women’s team is dominant, but that in part is due to the fact that there isn’t the overall strength in depth globally in the women’s game. It’s hard to draw comparisons between the men’s game and the women’s game as standards are very different. For example tHe US ladies team was beaten 5-2 in a warm up match by Dallas under 15boys.

    Ultimately pay levels will be driven by how popular the game becomes and the revenue it attracts I’m afraid

  11. daemonios says

    Rob Grigjanis #10

    Americans go practically from Pole to Pole. I believe you mean USAians there (you really need to work on a noun for a citizen of the USA). And I don’t watch much football, but that example of Rapinoe seems to be pretty mild, actually, while the one from the German team is downright uncharacteristically calm. Seems a bit cherry-picked, to say the least. I honestly don’t get what makes her a douche in that situation.

    In the mean time you can check any number of far more assholey celebrations on YouTube. Hint: they’ll practically all be from men, and not even of the USA persuasion. I get a slight feeling that your objection to Rapinoe’s celebration has to do with it being unladylike more than anything.

  12. chigau (違う) says

    daemonios #14
    I get a slight feeling that your objection to Rapinoe’s celebration has to do with it being unladylike more than anything.
    You’re new here, aren’t you?

  13. mnb0 says

    @12: “There are no theatrics in women’s football”
    BWAHAHAHAHA! The Cameroon team very theatrically threatened to quit the playing field against the Dutch team.
    And American’s very own Alex Morgan is a champ of the schwalbe, just like Dutch Danielle van der Donk (the penalty was still deserved, but that’s irrelevant in this context).
    That said I like this WCh a lot better than the male version previous year. In my eyes it’s a huge advantage that play is less physical. So congrats to all the Americans here from this Dutch fan.

    @15: “Could the women’s team beat the men’s team?”

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    daemonios @14:

    I get a slight feeling that your objection to Rapinoe’s celebration has to do with it being unladylike more than anything.

    You can stuff that slight feeling back where you pulled it from. With a little bit of work, you could easily find the reactions of “unladylike” women footballers and ex-footballers (from countries other than the US, of course) to Rapinoe’s antics, and those of her teammates. If the slight feeling comes back, take an aspirin.

    When a defeated player is giving an interview about how devastated she is, and some idiot right behind her is yelling “USA! USA!” , “unladylike” isn’t the problem. You can look that up, too. The player being interviewed was the England skipper Steph Houghton, and the idiot was (I think) the American midfielder Lindsey Horan.

  15. Rob Grigjanis says

    mnb0 @17:

    I like this WCh a lot better than the male version previous year.

    Oh yeah, definitely. A lot of really beautiful football, with much less drama on the pitch. But less physical? Not so sure.

    And also, too, despite my moaning about the US team, they were brilliant on the field, and fully deserving of the cup (not always the case in tournaments, as you probably know, being Dutch).

  16. Rob Grigjanis says

    Kreator @19: Oh no! I’m busted! BTW, it’s spelled “misogyny”. Misogynists like me try to at least make sure we get that right.

  17. hemidactylus says

    It was probably the best sporting event I’ve watched in a while. I skipped Super Bowl and F1 is not that exciting. I was hesitant to watch because soccer isn’t really my thing and I jinx teams by rooting for them. It was partially the political undertones- Rapinoe’s snub of Trump etc- that had me interested. It was a matter of national pride too which eclipsed his July 4th BS. There was an asymmetry regarding attempted shots on goal that makes me think the Dutch goalie is very good at her job.

  18. whheydt says

    If you recall, Rapinoe made it plain that she was uninterested in going to White House if they won. Trump responed by saying that they needed to win first.

    So… Let’s see if Trump actually extends and invitation. I’d bet he won’t, because it would look bad on him when (not if) it is declined.

    In other news…AOC tweeted that, rather than equal pay, the women, based on performance, should be paid twice as much as the men.

    On the amusing end of things… A Fox reporter was doing live coverage from a bar in Lyon when a chant of “Fuck Trump” broke out…

  19. cactusren says

    Rob Grigjanis @10:

    You’re comparing game footage (including cameras following a player celebrating a goal) to a clip reel showing a bunch of goals (with replays from multiple angles). Yes, there’s some quick clips interspersed of the German players hugging and high-fiving, but we don’t actually see the full celebration of any of those goals.

    In short–these clips are not equivalent.

    You might feel like the USWNT is arrogant and celebrates too much, and I sort of get that (it’s part of why I hate the Patriots). But your evidence that they are “obnoxious arseholes” is, at best, weak, and at worst deliberately cherry-picked.

  20. says

    blf @11

    I don’t get why you have “sport” in quotes. I’m not a fan of sports myself, but football is clearly one no matter how boring one might think it is.

  21. erik333 says

    What does “empirically better” even mean in this context? Better at playing football or better at selling tickets/getting sponsors/TV deals? Its the lattter that will eventually lead to better pay, the former is irrelevant.

    And no, they would not beat the US mens team in a football game.

  22. says

    The chart does not mean much because athletes are not paid to win per se. They are paid for the attention that people pay to them. Now winning helps with this of course but bad teams on the field can still be massive money makers because sports fandom is not only about winning. See: Most of the Chicago Cubs’ history.

    Now it is my understanding that the TV ratings (ticket sales, etc.) for the women’s and men’s team are roughly equal within the US so equal pay still follows. But I wonder how much less of a draw women’s soccer is generally and would be interested in seeing those numbers.

    Oh and the US women’s team is arrogant as all virtually all American athletes are. I was passive rooting against them after the Thailand debacle. I don’t know the norms of soccer well enough to say if the behavior was improper but it certainly is irksome to the sports norms I am use too.

    It is also very annoying how this team has become the cause of neoliberal democrats. Getting them equal pay is about as unhelpful as making sure that about half of all billionaires are women, people of color etc,

  23. mond says

    I am going to bring a bit of reality to this conversation.
    What’s more, it will make the disparity far far worse.
    The major point being missed is that in men’s football (soccer), payment for playing in the national team is a tiny percentage of the what the players earn overall. It’s all the ancillary financial value that the players get from playing in the national team that makes it worth it.
    Men make their ‘real’ money from Club Football and commercial sponsorship.
    Being in the national team is a way of keeping a high profile which leads to sponsorship and high wages at club level. Also if you are a desirable commodity you can get several lucrative transfer fees during your career. Just by virtue of being an international player all these things are enhanced.
    For all elite (male) players getting paid for playing in a tournament is financially irrelevant. It’s a bit like CEO of a large corp who is paid for example 20 million dollars a year getting a quarter million dollar bonus. In many ways playing for your National team is ‘necessary evil’. Players need to do it to maintain profile but it can come into conflict with what their Club team wants.
    The ‘prize money’ is a token gesture because the financial gain for players comes from elsewhere.
    The real problem for the womens game is that they don’t have the other avenues to exploit to make their ‘real money’. Clubs don’t pay female players CEO type salaries and commercial opportunity is much reduced.

  24. hemidactylus says

    Given the level of intense excitement I had watching yesterday’s game (which is weird for me because it is soccer after-all), the USWNT added more value to my life in one game than all of men’s soccer combined. I’ve tried watching MSL games and it’s not my cup of tea. Sorry. The women should get payed much more IMO, which itself is worth a few cents.

    The Thailand game may have been over the top, but I otherwise enjoy the swagger and confidence. I’m even looking at Alex Morgan’s bad behavior at EPCOT in a different light, given EPCOT is akin to watching latex paint bubbling off a wooden picket fence on a hot summer day. And I despise Disney.

    Interestingly 3 or more players of USWNT are Orlando Pride, which might not be televised as far as I know, but Lions and other MSL teams are. I can’t see myself watching professional women’s soccer in person, but maybe on TV if available. It’s gotta be 25 years since I actually attended a professional sporting event and that was an NFL game that kinda sucked. The Bucs. The 90s. Yeah. Self explanatory.

  25. Rob Grigjanis says

    mond @29:

    The major point being missed is that in men’s football (soccer), payment for playing in the national team is a tiny percentage of the what the players earn overall.

    When you’re fighting injustice, attacking the most visible, high-profile examples first is just good strategy. For whatever reason*, the Women’s World Cup has achieved a fairly high level of visibility. So go after the low-hanging fruit (recompense for international games) before you tackle the harder, more grass-roots stuff. I suspect the players launching the legal challenges understand this.

    *I think it’s the quality of the football, which is down to the quality of the top players and teams, with players like Marta, and teams like the US in the forefront.

  26. mond says


    Just fleshing out the wider economic soccer ecosystem for those who may not be aware of it.

  27. says

    Every time @pzmeyers writes about sports he shows of he has no idea about sport and just goes for perceived injustice – whether it is sexism, racism or whatever can be used there.

    Disclaimer – yes, I agree women are paid way less than men in football (let’s use the proper name of the game), however it is hard to estimate how much of it is a result of basic economy and how much is an effect of discrimination. By claiming that both men and women in football should earn the same, you just make it impossible to treat you seriously and harm your cause.
    Let me explain:

    I have no idea where this sentence came from: “The complaint also contains the minutes from a federation meeting in which the budget shows the federation expects the women’s team to produce more revenue than the men’s team in fiscal years 2016 and 2017.”
    Unfortunately link in this article leads to deleted tweet, if it was true it would be absolutely amazing in football to have womens team bringing up even similar money as mens team. In all the FIFA organized events revenues from mens competition are (partially) financing womens events not the other way around.
    And sportspeople salaries does not depend on success or difficulty of their discpline, they depend on revenue only. And revenue depends on how many companies are willing to pay for advertising (one of the factors here is attendance on stadiums and in front of TV).
    And numbers here are overwhelmingly skewed. As long as this persists, the salaries will differ too.
    Or maybe even a little longer as sometimes salaries are a bit slow to catch up to raising popularity of the discipline.

    It is of course a good idea to make an argument comparing share of the revenue of the team being spend on salaries, but comparing the salaries itself between men and women football players makes as much sense as comparing salaries between US men volleyball and basketball team.

    One more thing – comparing results in the men and women football is not so straightforward as you may think. Mens football is the most popular sport globally. Womens football is just begining to be popular. So being quarterfinalist in mens tournament and quarterfinalist in womens tournament are not the same (of course it is impossible to compare womens gold with mens quarterfinal or whatever). But at current stage mens football and womens football wildly differ in terms of competition, recognition and revenue.
    Many people use stupid argument that womens team would lose against not only mens team, but even against teenagers or oldboys. That doesn’t matter. The issue with womens football is lower numbers of players which leads to lower competition which makes it more difficult and less needed for top players to reach their peak potential which leads to lower attractiveness of the game which leads to lower attendance, lowere revenue, lower salaries which leads to career as a player being less attractive which leads to lower playerbase and so on.

    Nobody cries foul when male top models earn a lot less than female top models. If you want female athletes to earn the same, work toward making the discipline – the product – equally popular. Yes, affirmative action and more resources (in proportion to revenue) diverted towards women sports are a good idea, but don’t try to deny the obvious – without female football getting much more popular (both in numbers of players and viewers) being female and male footballer is not an equal work and will not be an equal pay.
    If you want to change it – watch more women sport.

    PS Globally there is higher percentage of female audience watching mens world cup than womens world cup although in US the trend is reversed. Still much more women watches mens games thean womens games.

  28. bcwebb says

    @34, the only problem with your rant, Gorzki, is that it is completely wrong
    -as far as the US women’s soccer team at least.

    538 has an analysis which contradicts what you say.

    It includes this:

    ” The complaint also contains the minutes from a federation meeting in which the budget shows the federation expects the women’s team to produce more revenue than the men’s team in fiscal years 2016 and 2017.”

    and of course, in 2019, the women’s team one the world cup while the men’s team crashed out early.

  29. says

    daemonios@14, don’t call Canadians Americans. We tend to get kind of annoyed at people who do that. Canada may be part of North America, but we would never call ourselves Americans.

  30. Kreator says

    Rob Grigjanis:
    Kreator @19: Oh no! I’m busted! BTW, it’s spelled “misogyny”. Misogynists like me try to at least make sure we get that right.
    Yeah, I always get the “i” and “y” confused because I’m not a native English speaker. It’s easier in my original Spanish, as the word only uses the “i”: misoginia. You are a misógino. And a pedante while we’re at it.

  31. says

    timgueguen @36

    daemonios@14, don’t call Canadians Americans. We tend to get kind of annoyed at people who do that. Canada may be part of North America, but we would never call ourselves Americans.

    I’ve always found that “Americans are everyone in the Americas” pedantry weird. I’m Canadian too and I don’t know anyone who insists on being called an American. We know when someone says “I am American” that they are from the USA (USAians is just downright silliness) and “America” refers to the United States.

  32. says


    As an American with PR in Canada, I have to say that I find “USAians” is an important and useful strategy that some USAians employ to poke at the arrogance of other USAians. I know that historical usage has made it clear that “American” (when discussing groups of people) means USAian, but that doesn’t mean our collective arrogance doesn’t need deflating, and dropping “USAian” in conversation is one way to do that.

    So I won’t give it up, and don’t find it silly, but it would certainly be silly if someone said that using “American” was wrong somehow.

  33. lotharloo says

    I like Rapinoe a lot, specially because of her stance against Trump, racism, and her support of Kaepernick and I think it is fair to say her celebration against Thailand or in general the US teams behavior was not respectful and a bit assholish. But ultimately, it’s not that big of a deal and Thailand was there to gain experience and they probably expected to be totally crushed by the USA team. However, I wished that the US team had not shown “stereotypical American arrogance” that the rest of the world associates with America.

  34. dianne says

    I rather disagree with the “team quality” chart. The US is a much larger country than any of those it played except China and it has a much larger per capita GDP, so more access to resources for training and ability to spend time and money on sports. Really, the “team quality” corrected for access to players and resources, should be “bloody awful” and “pretty good.”

    And with all due respect to Rapinoe, she still played for Trump’s country. The players literally wrapped themselves in the flag at the end of the last game. Not to mention Thailand. “We beat up on a team from a country 1/20th the size of ours and with a per capita GDP an order of magnitude lower than ours. Who-hoo! We’re the best!” Very USian, at least.

    They do deserve at least equal pay with the guys who are consistently and easily beat by countries fractions of their size and GDP, though.

  35. says

    It is not a rant it is reality check.

    Maybe I didn’t make myself clear – I have no problem with the fight for women being paid equally in football – but I am against stupid arguments that disregard the real reasons why difference exists. If you want to eliminate the issue focus on it’s real source instead of demanding a cash shower to level up the end effect.

    Slight offtopic: the worst argument I ever saw about pay inequality was comparing the salary of Harrison Ford and Daisy Ridley for “The Force Awakens”. The assumption that mega star critical for the franchise should be paid equally as practically debuting actress. No arguments here for the salaries of women football players is equally riddiculous but many are flawed or simply wrong. I do not oppose the cause, I oppose bad arguments that cause the harm in the long run.

    Granted, USWNT is very specific case. That’s exactly why the argument that USWNT is exceptional while USMNT is mediocre is a bit flawed. USA is a country where women football is treated most seriously in a world, while mens football is seriously neglected (due to competition from basketball and NFL that are much less popular in the rest of the world). But USMNT competes in a worldwide highly competitive discipline while USWNT competes in a growing discipline with much smaller number of top level teams (hopefuly only yet)
    as you can check here: https://www.fifa.com/mm/document/fifafacts/bcoffsurv/emaga_9384_10704.pdf there is over 8 number the times of males playing football than females worldwide. And the numbers are important both for the competitiveness and revenues. Being top 8 in male football is bigger achievement than being top 4 in women football. USWNT are better athletes than USMNT, but not better than men World Champions.

    bcwebb, if you read carefully, I also quote that sentence:
    “The complaint also contains the minutes from a federation meeting in which the budget shows the federation expects the women’s team to produce more revenue than the men’s team in fiscal years 2016 and 2017”

    but in the article there is no source provided for that claim other than deleted tweet. That is why I focused on global situation a bit more (also as I don’t live in US I am more inclined to provide some international context).
    I also made sure to point out I am all for women being paid slightly higher revenue percentage as salaries than men – to brake the dreadful circle I described.
    So my whole position is obvious – if the revenues are similar, both teams should be payed the same.
    Just show the revenues and I automatically agree with you.

    So: “both teams bring the same money, they should be paid equally” is a good argument, “both teams play the same game, they should be paid the same” is a bad argument.

    I did some more digging – washington post gives some better info:

    “There was a long-standing gap between revenue generated by the men and women, but that has disappeared in recent years. The women’s team contributed close or more than half of the federation’s revenue from games since fiscal 2016. Overall, from fiscal 2016 to 2018, the women’s games generated about $900,000 more revenue than the men’s games. In the year following the 2015 World Cup win, women’s games generated $1.9 million more than the men’s games. And in recent years, the men’s revenue tally also includes the fees that opposing teams pay in order to play the United States.

    The USSF points out that if this calculation is extended to fiscal 2015 — in order to include a men’s World Cup cycle — the men’s team brought in $10.8 million more for the federation. For the current World Cup cycle, the women’s team is likely to have higher revenue, since they won the championship while the men failed to qualify.”

    So comparing revenues is difficult and depends on the timeframe you choose as it can greatly change year to year while salaries are a bit averaged over the time.

    Also look at @29 post about how men players have more of their earning from playing in their club while women have much lower salaries in the club. In @29 opinion that means women athletes are already discriminated so that is an argument for increasing their salaries for playing UNWNT.

    But connect it with the info that top female players salaries in the club are sponsored by US federation to make womens MLS able to continue while MLS doesn’t need it.
    So you can make an argument that when comparing how much US federation pays male and female players you should add top women club salaries to the payments for MNT and WNT and you will get much smaller difference.

    The topis is complicated, if you simplify it by ignoring what you don’t like, you have nice number to rally up people who think like you, but you are not credible for anyone else.

  36. JustaTech says

    Gorzki @45: I don’t know what part of the US you are experiencing soccer in that you say that “USA is a country where women football is treated most seriously in a world, while mens football is seriously neglected”, but it does not match with my experience. In Seattle the men’s pro soccer team plays in the (American) football stadium, while the women’s pro soccer team used to play in high school fields until they moved to a neighboring city where (hopefully) they play in a stadium.
    The (championship) WNBA team plays in an arena that the NBA team considered so inferior that they left the city and were re-named when they didn’t get a new arena.

    Women aren’t even allowed to play two of the most popular spectator sports (baseball and football). As far as I can see, women’s sports always get the short end of the stick. If you’ve got examples I’ve missed I’d love to hear them, because I’m really not understanding your dataset.

  37. says

    First, I must say I was proud to join in on that chant and proud of those who started it. It was a great experience being there. (The jet lag I’m still experiencing? Not so much.)

    methuseus @4: Are you from Oregon??? I cannot believe that tickets would be expensive for any team other than maybe the Portland Thorns who have a very dedicated fan base. And so I went to their ticketing and general admission is $15. Upper assigned seats were $22. I don’t understand how that is “expensive.”

  38. mountainbob says

    The women receive a salary. The men do not. Makes up for a lot of the difference. The two contracts were negotiated separately and do not have similar provisions. Not saying that the treatment is equal, but to compare on the bases of the incomplete chart shown by Myers is as wrong as it would be to say we have no problems with pay equity in America.