Discrimination based on sex has been illegal since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Yet in the world of sport pay equity is almost non-existent. Women’s National Basketball Association athletes earn a fraction of what male NBA players are paid.
While the income gap has narrowed dramatically in tennis, with major Grand Slam tournaments such as Wimbledon and the US Open paying even-priced winners, other major tennis events still perpetuate inequality. It took decades of pressure from star players like Venus Williams and Billie Jean King to narrow the disparities.
A federal judge ruled earlier this year against female footballers who sued the United States Football Federation in 2016 over disparities between players on men’s and women’s teams, only upholding the demand for equal working conditions . While the five players who continued – Alex morgan, Hope solo, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Becky sauerbrunn – argued that the prize money was significantly lower for the women’s team, the judge dismissed the case because the plaintiffs won more money than the male players.
However, they only won because they had won more games; if the two teams had won the same number of matches, the men’s team would have been paid significantly more. Team captain Rapinoe – an outspoken progressive on many issues, including Black Lives Matter – blasted the decision, which the plaintiffs have appealed.
Now, in what the National Association of Women Soccer Players of the United States initially tweeted, it was a “publicity stunt,” the USSF said it “firmly believes that the best way forward for all for those involved and for the future of sport in the United States, is a unique compensation structure for the two senior national teams. The organization is claiming its latest contract offer to both the United States National Football Team Players Association – the union representing the men’s team – and the USNWSTPA establish equal pay. (NPR, September 15)
However, the USSF has said it will not accept any collective agreements unless the issue of World Cup prize money is “settled.” Currently, the international federation FIFA, which sponsors the World Cup, pays the winning men’s team more than seven times what it pays the women’s team.
Morgan explained that “we have to look line by line at what they actually deliver, because if you have equality but it’s not even what we got before, or how worth we are, then we consider always that for not being good enough. (ESPN, September 16)
Capitalists, including team owners, have always fought demands for equal pay. They make much less extra profit by paying women and gender-oppressed workers, as well as workers of color, LGBTQ2S + workers, and workers with disabilities. But they’re willing to cut the wages of the highest paid white men, then hypocritically boast about their bogus commitment to equality.