Women’s Soccer Is Raking in Cash. Why Do US Players Get Embarrassingly Low Pay?

Compared with men, here’s what women’s national team members make.

Wang Lili/Xinhua/ZUMA

The latest labor dispute between the World Cup-winning US women’s national soccer team and the US Soccer Federation has illuminated an issue for workers throughout the country: the gender pay gap. On Thursday, five high-profile players filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the soccer federation of gender-based wage discrimination. 

“This is the strongest case of discrimination against women athletes in violation of law that I have ever seen,” Jeffrey Kessler, the players’ lawyer, told the New York Times.

Numbers cited in the EEOC filing show just how vast the divide is. Despite projections that  the women’s team will bring in $5 million in profit in the coming fiscal year and nearly $18 million in revenue, the players allege that they are paid four times less than their male counterparts. If the women win 20 exhibition matches, the minimum number the team is expected to play annually, they would earn $99,000 each. Men’s team members would earn $352,500 for doing the same—and would earn $100,000 even if they lost all 20.

US Soccer told the Times that it hadn’t seen the complaint and was “disappointed” by the players’ actions.

“It’s just completely unbalanced,” goalkeeper Hope Solo, who has signed on to the action, told Mother Jones in December. “The argument is, well, women should not get paid as much as men, because they don’t bring in as much revenue. We hear it all the time. Our argument back is that we have the best [television] ratings between the men’s team and the women’s team, and had we gotten more marketing dollars, we would have more ticket revenue.” 

Here’s a look at the gender pay gap between the men’s and women’s national teams, according to the players’ complaint.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.