Opinion

Not all heroes wear capes, some wear cleats

Regardless of being a man or a woman, the sport is called the same name, played with the same amount of players, wearing the same type of gear, but the compensation screams inequality. That is why members of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) have filed a wage discrimination claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Five players on the team: Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn feel that right now is the best time to do this. All of these players have earned their respects on the field, especially after being champions of the 2015 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) World Cup.

To help come to a clear understanding of how vast the gap is between women’s and men’s professional soccer compensation, lets use Germany for example. This was the Men’s National Team that won the world cup in 2014. After Germany’s victory, they were awarded $35 million by FIFA. In 2015 when the USWNT won the world cup, they were awarded $1.8 million. Seems fair, right?

It has taken far too long for action to finally happen. The Equal Pay Act was instilled in 1963, which was created for the sole reason under the “concern for the weaker bargaining position of women.” In other words, it protects employees against raw deals that discriminate. So how is it not overwhelmingly obvious to FIFA that these women athletes are severely underpaid?

In retrospect, the USWNT association has already attempted to fix this issue, when they submitted a proposal to renegotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the United States Soccer Federation. The federation responded by suing the players “in an effort to keep in place the discriminatory and unfair treatment they have endured for years.”

The federation has spoken about this issue, stating they want to work this problem out with the women, and how they have respect for them. But honestly, what are they really doing to solve this problem? Too many times we see representatives from these giant federations or companies trying to save face by making these subtle comments about working together with the opposing side, or the amount of respect they have for them, but will never put action behind it. These women understand that, and are not willing to give up.

I have been playing the sport of soccer for 20 years, and as a little girl, my dream was to become a professional soccer player. I looked up to the USWNT as my heroes, and as women that I wanted to be in my future. Growing up, and coming to understand the inequality that is still relevant in our world today, grew a sense of dull hope in my heart. I just don’t understand who gets the right to decide how much you should be paid for something?

It is 2016. A time highly rooted in fighting for social justice. This push for equality makes me proud to be a woman soccer player. Among many others and myself, we stand behind these women who have decided to take action and not simply accept the unfair conditions of the situation they are in.

PHOTO COURTESY OF U.S. SOCCER WNT VIA TWITTER.COM

About the author

Jordan Ligons

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