Female Athletes Reflect on the Importance of World Cup Win


Charles Taylor, Sports Editor

Three sharp whistle blasts signaled the end of the US Women’s National Soccer Team’s 2-0 defeat of the Netherlands in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The game signified the culmination of the pride, motivation, and passion shown by the team during the tournament. The US earned a 7-0 record along the way to earning its fourth title ever.

This success sharply contrasts with the US Men’s National Soccer Team’s relative failure, including its 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 10, 2017. This loss eliminated hope for a future in which the men’s team would be victorious like the women’s team. The men’s team has not won a World Cup to date. In addition to the women’s higher number of World Cup wins, the women’s team generated more net revenue between fiscal years 2016-2018. According to the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the women’s team generated about $50.8 million, while the men’s team generated $49.9 million.

Junior Ellen Larson attended the Women’s World Cup and said this statistic highlights the comparable value of women’s and men’s soccer in America. Larson believes the pay should be equal as well.

“If the US women are generating the same profit as the men, I think they should absolutely be paid the same,” Larson said. “According to this statistic, men’s and women’s soccer have a similar value, and I think that such information demands more similar pay in return.”

Freshman Miranda Nguyen also attended the Women’s World Cup. According to Nguyen, the high amount of support the US Women’s National Team receives and its greater success on the field compared to the men’s team mean the players deserve to be paid more than they currently are.

“The support of the crowd and the community that the US women’s team brings in is amazing, and I can’t believe that such smart, high-level players aren’t paid what they deserve,” Nguyen said. “It only makes sense that the more money you bring in, the more you should be paid. There are plenty of statistics to back up women. Not only have they played in more World Cups, but they also bring in lots of loyal fans.”

Larson said seeing the teams in action altered the way she saw the issue of equal pay in soccer. According to Larson, the players’ talent and training should be rewarded with higher pay.

“I think watching the women’s World Cup really emphasized how the gender pay gap impacts the sport and how ridiculous it is,” Larson said. “There are so many incredible female players that participated, and it’s terrible that even when they’re in the top of their field, they’re still at a disadvantage simply because of their gender.”

Regardless of their talent level, Nguyen mentioned the hard work female players put in. Nguyen believes that the female players’ tenacity justifies equal pay to men.

“I find it unbelievable that today women are still paid less than men,” Nguyen said. “Women work just as hard and play just as tough, but they are paid significantly less. To me that makes zero sense.”

Junior Morgan Strong, who attended the Women’s World Cup as well, said the high level of play influenced how she views the gender pay gap. Strong noticed the women played at a high enough level to compete with men’s teams.

“This is the first year I was like, ‘Oh, my God, they’re such a solid team. They could compete against any men’s team and give them a run for their money,” Strong said. “It’s a different game, right? Things are changing, things are developing. It’s not like, ‘Women aren’t capable.’ And that’s the idea that people have in their head still.”

Strong said the confidence among the US contingent at the Women’s World Cup was perceptible. Strong believed that this mentality from the players spread to the fans.

“It was just this confidence that was like, we know that we can do this,” Strong said. “You could see that in the way that they played, like Julie Ertz, who’s the holding mid, she just destroyed, and it’s not like she had to do really flamboyant plays and stuff … that’s sort of confidence in, like, ‘I know what I need to do.’ That kind of spread throughout the team and the fans.”

Strong said Americans should watch more women’s soccer. She believes some people might begin to form new opinions about it if the sport had more exposure.

“I think that people should go out and see women’s soccer more or just, like, from TV, because we don’t really acknowledge it,” Strong said. “It’s still generating a lot of press. But I think that the everyday man doesn’t really like it as much. And so just having a TV and watching a little bit [to see] what you feel helps.”

Larson said the US team’s performance in the World Cup was a good display of the team’s strength. According to Larson, the team deserves more praise for what they accomplished.

“After seeing the US compete so well throughout the whole tournament and come out with a win overall, it just showed how strong the US women’s soccer program is, and it gave me a lot of appreciation for the USWNT,” Larson said. “We have such an amazing team and players, and I really think they deserve a lot more recognition and appreciation, especially in light of all their recent success.”