On Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a resolution that called on soccer’s global governing body to “immediately eliminate gender pay inequity and treat all athletes with the same respect and dignity.”
“It is a shame that in the Senate, we cannot even agree to pass a resolution that calls for the equal treatment of male and female athletes. If we cannot even pass a non-binding resolution, how can we ever achieve real pay equity for women?” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who introduced the resolution this summer.
Earlier this year at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the pay disparity between male and female soccer players was put into sharp focus when it was reported that while the U.S. Women’s National Team received $2 million for winning the championship, men’s teams who lost in the first round of the 2014 World Cup, including the U.S. men’s team, received $8 million.
Whether you're a teacher, an executive, or a world-champion soccer player, you deserve equal pay. Red card, GOP. https://t.co/TWmzEETe7v
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 30, 2015
The wage gap isn’t the only way that FIFA has discriminated against female players. At this year’s World Cup the women had to play on artificial turf, despite the gender discrimination suit filed by top stars of the game that stated that the turf would increase injuries and that it was, quite literally, an unequal playing field from the men’s game. And, of course, women’s sports as a whole receive far less investment and subsequent attention than men’s sports, despite the fact that there is a proven audience and interest in them — the final of the Women’s World Cup was the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history, men’s or women’s.
Leahy, along with Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, was among those bothered by that inequality on display this summer, and therefore proposed the resolutions. Since the Senate does not have any direct control over how much FIFA pays its athletes, the resolution was merely a symbolic statement in favor of the equitable treatment of comparable professional athletes, but the Republicans couldn’t even get behind that.
“We have a budget to pass. We have a debt crisis to fix. We have an education system that needs reform,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said, as reported by Huffington Post. “That’s what the United States Senate ought to be spending time on, rather than offering opinions and resolutions about a private international entity and how they should award prizes.”
However, it’s worth noting that while the wage gap in soccer is particularly egregious, this is not an issue that is unique to athletics. Senate Republicans have repeatedly blocked legislation that would actually address the wage gap in the United States. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, the wage gap is not the myth that many Republicans make it out to be: Women make, on average, 77 percent less than what men in comparable positions make.