Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) spoke out about FIFA’s pay inequity on the Senate floor on Monday, putting forth a formal resolution to demand that the international soccer governance board fix the fact that women’s World Cup champions earned just $2 million while the men’s world cup team winners earned $35 million. The men’s USA team was actually eliminated in the second round, and earned $8 million for doing so.
He said that the common argument against pay equity in FIFA — disparities in revenue — should be no excuse. “Revenue should not be and cannot be used for discrimination. … In fact, they ought to ask how many people watched that women’s soccer people. Most people would give anything to have that viewership,” he said.
Indeed, the women’s World Cup final drew a record-breaking 20 million viewers.
Leahy continued: “The 2014 women that took part in the tournament are role models, not just to girls but to men and boys across the world. They should be awarded for their grit, their performance and teamwork rather than devalued for their gender.”
He pointed out that Wimbledon, which concluded last weekend, awarded winners Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic the same championship pay. Wimbledon implemented the pay equity policy in 2007. (Unfortunately, Williams may be earning pay equity on the court, but her white opponent Maria Sharapova earns more in endorsements off the court.)
“With the resolution I’ll introduce today, let the Senate be on record in support of fair treatment for all world cup champions, and we urge FIFA to change its policy, just as the All England Club did years ago,” Leahy concluded. “The fight for gender equality continues.”
Women also face other forms of inequity in FIFA, including being forced to play on artificial turf, which tends to rip the skin on players’ knees and shins.