We took note of a lot of "Equal Pay Day" events but somehow missed the appearance of U.S women soccer team star Megan Rapinoe, who was on state with Hillary Clinton at a New York event. The team has been successful. “Yet somehow,” Hillary Clinton said, “the men are making hundreds of thousands of dollars more than our women.”
Disgraceful if true. As the Wall Street Journal points out, however, it is not true. It is a ploy: If "Equal Pay Day" in general is a voter turnout tool of the Democrats, the alleged soccer gender pay gap, is a negotiating tool in a labor dispute for the women's soccer team. The team and the U.S. Soccer Federation are locked in a battle over labor issues. The women already have a lot of leverage because a strike before the Rio de Janeiro Olympics would be a disaster.
Blacking the name of your opponent as sexist is a helpful negotiation tactic. The evidence does not back up the charge, however. The Wall Street Journal explains:
But data released last week by the U.S. Soccer Federation show that the top women’s players make nearly as much as the highest-paid men’s players. Since 2008, six national-team men and six women have earned more than $1 million from the Federation. And according to ESPN, 14 of the 25 highest-earning national-team players over the past four years have been women, whose compensation averaged $695,269. That’s 2.2% below the average for men. Women also receive benefits that men don’t, including maternity leave and severance pay if they get cut from the team. Women get paid if they’re sidelined with an injury; men don’t.
Women on the U.S. national soccer teams aren’t paid less than men. They’re paid differently because the collective-bargaining agreements they have negotiated emphasize income- and job-security. Women players earn annual salaries of $72,000; the men get paid by how many games they play. The men’s roster is more fluid, and the head coach can call players to camp for one game.
Nearly 50 men’s players appeared in games for the U.S. national squad last year, but only three played more than 13 games. The women’s team fields about half as many players.
Players on the women’s team receive smaller bonuses than the men: Women are awarded $1,350 for each win, while the men get $5,000 for each game they’re on the national roster and are paid $6,250-$17,625 for each victory, depending on their opponent’s ranking.
Another significant disparity: The U.S. women’s team received $2 million from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) for winning the World Cup last year, while the men’s team landed $9 million merely for advancing to the round of 16.
How could that be? Simple: Men’s soccer is much more popular than women’s soccer world-wide. Historically, men’s soccer has also been a bigger draw in the U.S. Between 2011 and 2015, men played in 53 home games with attendance averaging 35,536. During that period, women played 50 games in the U.S., drawing an average attendance of 16,559. In 2014, when the men’s team was in the World Cup competition, their revenues were roughly four times that of the women’s team. Last year, when the women’s team was competing for the World Cup, their revenues ($23.5 million) beat the men’s team’s ($21 million) for the first time.
Most men’s soccer players earn more from their club teams than women do from the embryonic National Women’s Soccer League, which the Federation launched in 2012 to provide female players who don’t make the national team with a venue to showcase their talent. But the Federation isn’t responsible for how professional soccer leagues pay their players.
So much of the self-righteous calls to end the gender pay gap are based on misleading "information" and are cynically promoted. In this instance, it is impossible to know whether the Democratic frontrunner is in error because she doesn't understand the data or is being cynical.