It’s been four days since the U.S. won the Women’s World Cup, and excitement over the victory is still high. Mingled with that excitement, though, is dismay and disgust at the realization that the women will earn a fraction of the payout that losing men’s teams received during their last World Cup.
I share that disgust and that dismay. This entire World Cup has basically been one episode after another of FIFA showing their asses, from massive offenses like the artificial turf scandal to the fact that FIFA spent more producing a movie that grossed a whopping $918 in the US than they did for their entire payout for the Women’s World Cup. (And that’s without even mentioning the arrests for corruption or all of the people who have died while trying to prepare for the World Cup in Qatar.) Basically, FIFA officials make the IOC seem like a bunch of wholesome Girl Scouts in comparison, and I fart in their general direction.
The arguments made by FIFA’s defenders – and yes, they do still have some, amazingly enough – is that the economics of the game don’t support higher salaries and payouts for female soccer/football players. The audience for women’s soccer is there for the World Cup and for the Olympics, but then when the global spectacle ends, so does a lot of the interest, which has historically made it difficult to support leagues, let alone actual living salaries for the league’s players. (Although, is it possible that this could finally change…?)
So I have a proposition for everyone who watched the Women’s World Cup and was electrified by it, for everyone who blew up Twitter with images of Carli Lloyd on the $10 bill, and for everyone who shared an outraged Facebook post or tweet when the pay discrepancy became known:
Go to a National Women’s Soccer League game. Round up some friends, buy some tickets, and go. Paint your face, buy a scarf and wave it around, scream your brains out, have a blast. Or if that’s not your bag, sit quietly, sip your beer and applaud every time someone scores a goal.
Either way, if you can, go.
If you are like me, and you live in a part of the country where there are no professional women’s soccer teams? (I literally have to drive 1,000 miles to get to a city with a NWSL franchise.) Well, you can either go when you travel to a city that has a team, or you can catch an international friendly when it comes to your city. That’s how I ended up seeing the USWNT when they played against Brazil in Orlando.
And I’ll tell you what – that game remains one of the most fun, exciting sports events I’ve ever attended, and I once saw a playoff game in Fenway Park where the Red Sox scored more than two dozen runs to obliterate the Indians (and I was sitting behind Matt Damon the whole game). The two-hour drive and the cost of the ticket was well worth it, and then some.
Yes, it is absolutely important that we be outraged and critical and angry about the unfairness of it all, but we can’t just let it end there. Social media outrage is important but it doesn’t put food on the table for the players. So let’s show our support with the only thing that corporations really listen to in our society: our dollar bills.