The U.S. women’s soccer team is back from France after being crowned 2019 World Cup champions, and they are being honored on Wednesday with a victory parade down the Canyon of Heroes in New York City. (You can live stream the U.S. team victory parade on the YouTube channels of many news stations, such as NBC News.)
The USA women’s team has now won a record-high four World Cup titles — that’s half of the eight total women’s World Cups in the history of the tournament, which started in 1991. Brazil’s men’s team has the most World Cup championships overall (five), but the men’s tournament has been taking place since 1930.
What was particularly amazing about USA’s World Cup championship run in 2019 is that Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle, and the rest of the team performed so well under an insane amount of pressure. The U.S. women’s team was regarded as the heavy favorite to win the title this year, and anything less than a championship would be considered a failure.
The consistent dominance by the U.S. women’s team has rarely — or perhaps never — been seen in other sports on such a global scale. Yet as Team USA itself and many others have pointed out, the world’s best female soccer players are not paid nearly as much as their male equivalents in soccer or any other major sport.
Just how much do players on the U.S. team make for winning the women’s World Cup? Once all the bonuses are added up, each player on the roster will have earned about $250,000 for participating and winning the tournament, according to the New York Times. This estimated per-player total includes:
• $75,000 bonus for making the USA team and qualifying for the World Cup
• $115,000 bonus for winning the World Cup title
• $60,000 bonus for playing in four-game victory tour after the World Cup
That’s not the entire amount that members of Team USA will earn this year, however. Sponsors like Luna Bar, Visa, Adidas, and Nike are paying some or all of the U.S. women’s players additional money. The women also receive fairly meager salaries (under $50,000 annually) as professional soccer players. All together, members of the U.S. women’s team might make around $400,000 each in 2019, and some star players with lucrative endorsement deals could earn over $1 million.
Those are sizable figures, of course, but they pale in comparison to the world’s best male soccer players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who each earn over $100 million annually and have individual net worths over $400 million. What’s more, while the U.S. women’s team split the World Cup championship prize money of $4 million in 2019, the French men’s team divided up a total of $38 million in prize money (well over $1 million per player) for winning the World Cup title in 2018.
Critics of Team USA’s fight for equal pay are quick to point out that FIFA, which runs the men’s and women’s World Cups and awards the prize money, made $6 billion in revenues from the men’s tournament in 2018, compared to perhaps $130 million for this year’s women’s World Cup.
But that’s only part of the equation. Nike announced that the USA women’s team home jersey became the top-selling soccer jersey ever on its website even before the U.S. won the World Cup. A new Nike USA women’s jersey with four stars on it — one for each World Cup championship — sold out almost immediately after it became available on Monday.
U.S. women’s games have earned higher revenues than the men’s USA team games, and TV ratings for the women’s World Cup Final in the U.S. were much higher than the men’s finals in 2018, and far more U.S. women’s team merchandise is sold compared to the men.
And yet the U.S. men’s team is still earning hundreds of thousands more annually than the women, even though the women are routinely more successful.
These are some of the reasons that the U.S. women’s team filed a lawsuit in 2019 demanding equal pay from U.S. Soccer. And it’s partly why FIFA has already suggested it would double the prize money for the next women’s World Cup.
That’s not quite enough of a pay increase, according to breakout star Megan Rapinoe, who won the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball as the 2019 World Cup’s highest scoring and most valuable player.
“It’s certainly not fair,” Rapinoe said of the prize money disparity between men and women’s World Cups, according to CNN. “We should double it now and use that number to double it or quadruple it for the next time.”