Women’s Soccer: You Got Your Bargaining Chips. Use Them.
nO oNe CaReS AbOuT wOmEn’S SoCcEr…
The United States Women’s National Team just won their 4th World Cup and successfully defended their title run from 2015. They etched the most goals in a World Cup Tournament. They are the only team to place in the top 3 of every single women’s World Cup to date. They also just gained a massive bargaining chip in their pay disparity lawsuit.
If you would like the backstory on this, feel free to read a previous post of mine US Women’s Soccer: 2019 Win Could Mean More Than You Know.
TV Ratings Up Across the Globe
Based on the numbers and all the people who tuned in to this year’s tournament, the US not only has a bargaining chip, but women’s soccer as a whole can make their case with data to prove that they matter and should be compensated accordingly.
In 2015, the Women’s Final against Japan set the record for the most watched soccer game in US history. That record is still in tact following the 2019 World Cup. To be fair, the women were playing in Canada allowing for a primetime slot in the final match as opposed to 2019 playing on a Sunday in the mid-morning.
The US win over Netherlands 2-0 in the final gathered an overnight TV rating of 10.0 which accumulates to about 14 million viewers. The Men’s World Cup Final last year finished with an 8.3 overnight rating. The women’s final scored 20% higher than the men in the US.
However, the game did go on to set some records globally.
The final was broadcasted on Telemundo Deportes and averaged 1.6 million viewers making it the most watched Women’s World Cup game on spanish-language TV.
In the Netherlands, 5.5 million people tuned in which means 88% of the TV population watched. When the Netherlands’ men reached the finals in 2010, 91% of the population tuned in giving them an average viewership of 8.5 million.
In the UK, a cumulative 28.1 million people tuned in to the World Cup versus the 12.4 million back in 2015 according to BBC. The semi-final US v England match was the most watched broadcast in 2019 for the country thus far.
“This World Cup was the most memorable to date and it has engaged sport fans across the U.K.,” said Barbara Slater, director of BBC Sport, in a statement. “The BBC is committed to growing the women’s game and our free-to-air coverage has ensured the tournament reached the widest possible audience. This was the first major event to kick off our Change The Game season and it’s record-breaking viewing figures didn’t disappoint.”
It also went on to set tv records in other countries like Germany and France.
Maybe FIFA will listen to their women. It was announced during the World Cup that the tournament will expand to 32 teams thus making the prize money and participation increase.
This year the prize money doubled from 15 million to 30 million, though it is nowhere near the 400 million that the men receive.
As long as they keep expanding and the women keep fighting, they can continue to close the gap. That matters.
As the market increases for women’s soccer, so will the sponsors. This year Nike sponsored 14 of the teams in the tournament while Adidas sponsored 6. You had a handful of other apparel companies sponsor one team.
In fact, Adidas vowed to pay out the same prize money as they did for the men in 2018.
This year, the Women sold 1.16 million in ticket sales for the World Cup, falling just short of the record set in 2015 of 1.35.
57,900 fans sold out Stade de Leon and made their voices heard screaming for equal pay at the conclusion of the 2019 final.
Nike confirmed that jersey sales for the USWNT are up 200%. In fact, the total number for jersey sales for women ($50.8 million) is slightly larger than men ($49.9 million) since 2016.
CEO Mark Parker confirmed that the women’s jerseys became the top selling soccer jerseys in a single season.
What Happens Next?
While they have a long way to go to reach the men. In all honesty, I don’t like the word never or impossible because it sounds too certain. But the likelihood of them every reaching the same pay scale as men is slim.
That being said, they owe it to themselves to fight for every penny they can and they will. Year to year, the numbers favor the men ten fold. But every 4 years when the women compete in the grandest stage of them all, they should at least be compensated accordingly for that.
With the USWNT being the faces for Women’s soccer, they have trailblazers like Megan Rapinoe who can move the needle. She is outspoken and brash. This entire debate started catching publicity when Abby Wambach was on her way out of soccer. Rapinoe being the next one in line as the leader of the US took the ball and ran with it.
As they and the rest of the women’s soccer world continue to show up and entertain us on the grandest stage in their sport, the pressure will continue to grow and the ball will continue to roll in their favor.
The pressure was on for the US to once again move the needle and make noise. They did that.