Casual Sexism In Soccer

Sofia Basulto

As we’ve seen in previous games, the start of the men’s World Cup often leads to heated debates over viewership, and this year is no different. The discussion of casual sexism in the sport is once again at the forefront of conversation among sports fans. Although soccer is a sport loved by billions, clearly not as many people are tuned into the women’s tournament every 4 years. Sports fanatics may try to argue that there are a variety of reasons for the lack of support for the women’s tournament, it’s quite obvious who hasn’t got with the times and supported both sides of the joint US national team.

With their win against Iran in the Group B bracket, the US men’s national team has received a payout of at least 13 million dollars. The money is set to be split evenly between the men’s and women’s divisions; this comes as a result of the settlement in the gender equality lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. 

For context, select members of the women’s US soccer team were in a six-year, highly publicized battle over pay equality. A settlement was reached in February of 2022 and the women soccer players were awarded over 24 million dollars, mostly in back pay. To that end, the 13 million dollars the men’s division earned during the current World Cup, will be split with the women’s division. Each player will receive a percentage – for these games, and all games that are won, including the next women’s world cup which is set to start on July 20th of 2023. 

Although the male players will receive money when the women win their games, the sharing of the earnings has created much discord and angry discussion among sports fans. (It is important to note that the women’s team has a much better record, with four World Cup wins in the years of 1991, 1999, 2015, and 2019. Unlike the men’s team which is still working towards earning their first.)  Many fans believe that the women don’t “deserve” the current World Cup earnings, and feel that the men’s division is being robbed. In addition, sports commentators such as Don Lemon have publicly stated that because men’s sports are more popular and create more revenue, men should make more money, contributing to capitalistic ideology. This heated debate continues far and wide although both sides signed the revenue-sharing agreement. In a shocking turn of events and due to the equality pay settlement, the USWNT is set to receive more than three times their previous World Cup earnings based on the men’s current participation in the 2022 World Cup. 

In their most recent championship in 2019, the women’s World Cup total prize money was $30 million, which had been doubled from the $15 million promised in 2015. Meanwhile, at the men’s World Cup this year, the winner of the tournament will receive $42 million and the total prize money is $440 million, which as calculated is over 14 times as much as the women’s edition of the tournament. So despite fighting for equity and changes happening in the right direction,  there is obviously an immense amounts of discrimination in the sport towards women, regardless of the fact that they have proved their ability by securing multiple World Cup titles.