Fans of the U.S. women’s soccer team pointed to a dominant victory over Thailand on Tuesday in the Women’s World Cup as a reason players should be paid more.
But critics responded to the equal-pay outcry by reminding the team of its 2017 loss to an under-15 boys academy team.
The women’s team set a World Cup record for most goals in a single game by beating Thailand 13-0 in its tournament opener. Thai players were in tears when the final whistle was blown.
Some Twitter users criticized the U.S. women for continuing to enthusiastically celebrate goals even after the game was clearly decided.
The rout is on!
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) June 11, 2019
But others argued that the win proved American women’s players should be paid as much as their male counterparts.
“[W]e really out here paying men more when the #USWNT just scored 13 goals and got the all time world record for the most world cup goals in one match,” wrote one commenter, whose tweet garnered more than 1,300 likes and 400 retweets.
all the insecure men in the replies saying they “lost” to a u15 team are making my brain melt. what 30 year old national champions having a scrimmage with 15 year olds when they have a real game the next day would play even close to their hardest? pay the uswnt what they DESERVE https://t.co/tVnr3PKeI6
— olivia sidwell (@OliviaMSidwell) June 11, 2019
J.D. Biersdorfer, a columnist for The New York Times, said that the women deserved “more money than the men’s team” after their World Cup performance.
— JD Biersdorfer ???☕️ (@jdbiersdorfer) June 12, 2019
The Atlantic staff writer Jemele Hill tweeted that the women’s team is better than the men’s team.
1) She is not paid as much as her male counterparts, despite being better, and far more popular than the men’s team
2) This administration banned pride flags at US embassies, which the Vice President said was the “right decision.”
Can you blame her? https://t.co/ZIW7zJuWwh
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) June 13, 2019
There were counterarguments, though. Some users recalled the U.S. Women’s National Team’s blowout loss in 2017 to an FC Dallas club team whose players were aged 14 and 15. The final score was 5-2.
You probably don't want that since the women lost to a U15 club teamhttps://t.co/7Q64UG3AE4
— Cheese Mustache (@cheese_mustache) June 12, 2019
The defeat of the U.S. women, widely considered the greatest women’s soccer program in the sports history, is not an anomaly.
In 2016, the Australian women’s national squad suffered an embarrassing 7-0 defeat to a team of 15-year-old boys. In 2013, Sweden’s women’s team, runners-up in the 2003 women’s World Cup, lost to a local team of teen boys. The U-17 USMNT reportedly thrashed the USWNT 8-2 in a closed-door scrimmage in 2012.
USWNT equal pay controversy
The lawsuit, brought by all 28 players, accuses U.S. soccer of years of “institutionalized gender discrimination.” At issue is not only pay, but also the locations of games and the quality of medical treatment the women receive.
The players complain that although they both play and win more games than the men’s team, they are paid less by the federation, which is both their employer and the sport’s national governing body.
The storied team, which has won three Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, is undoubtedly the most successful in international women’s soccer history. However, a straightforward comparison to the men’s team is complicated by the disparity in global revenue and popularity between the sports, not to mention biology.
While the 2015 Women’s World Cup generated close to $73 million, the 2018 men’s tournament generated an estimated $6.1 billion in revenue. Male players actually received a smaller percentage of the revenue, 9 percent, compared to the 13 percent paid out to female players for their tournament.