As a former 12-year member of a sport that we shin-guard wearing nerds call "the beautiful game," I want to give a personal, heartfelt shout out to the United States Women’s Soccer Team.
These dedicated and gifted ladies recently continued their mastery on the pitch by picking up the USA’s fourth FIFA World Cup title since 1991.
I salute these talented women and I wish them nothing but success as they move forward from their glorious accomplishments.
OK. I’m sure glad I got that off my chest.
Now that the mushy stuff is out of the way, forgive me for being rather matter of fact about this very same topic as you peruse the rest of this piece.
Or maybe you won’t. Either way, be prepared for a not particularly chummy perspective.
I do not support the players’ so-called platform.
With all due respect to my earnest colleague Michael Leonard, who wrote two passionate columns regarding the alleged lack of appreciation toward women from fellows like yours truly, hearing these audacious players’ entitled protests make me cringe.
The white-hot topic or, let’s be honest, controversy of this nation’s "Midsummer Night’s Dream" involves lots of green pieces of paper.
Yes, the lovable chants of "Olé, Olé, Olé!" have been replaced by scornful rants of "Equal pay! Equal pay!"
The leader of this newly formed group of rebels is a 5-foot-6, 34-year-old midfielder/winger named Megan Rapinoe.
The outspoken, multi-color-haired former national team co-captain has been the real-life version of longtime anchor Howard Beale, who shocked his viewers with a certain famous tirade in the 1976 Academy Award-winning film Network.
"I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!"
In case you haven’t noticed, Ms. Rapinoe has guzzled every drop of her 15 minutes of fame.
And then some.
Where do we begin? Her relentless political views every time she has a microphone near her chin? Her vulgar mocking of the red, white and blue’s 45th commander-in-chief?
For this column, we’ll just stick to the gender pay-gap debate.
My take? There is no debate.
I guess that makes me sexist, huh? Or maybe I "hate women?"
For me, this is a simple matter of economics. To be brutally honest, it’s actually a simple matter of mathematics.
Let’s start with the players, who, as I’m sure you know by now, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Rapinoe and Co. are outraged about their base salaries and bonuses, which they claim are lower than those of the men’s team. For the record, the U.S. men have won a total of … wait for it ... zero World Cup championships.
At first glance, you would certainly think they’re onto something.
According to Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post, the women earn a $15,000 bonus in the World Cup, while the men receive $55,000 from Uncle Sam.
Chuck Schumer gave his two cents, as well. The Senate Minority Leader pointed out a "women’s national soccer team player earns a base salary of $3,600 per game while a men’s player earns $5,000."
Sounds like I’m being posterized by a vicious slam dunk, huh?
I beg to differ.
Here’s something to consider: There are a certain group of homo sapiens who are getting jobbed by the pay structure.
Ready for this one? The men are drawing the short end of the stick.
Yep, you read that right.
According to Mike Oznian, a writer for Forbes, the 2015 Women’s World Cup "brought in almost $73 million, which the players got 13 percent."
As for the guys? Feast your eyes …
"The 2010 men’s World Cup made almost $4 billion of which nine percent went to the players."
This year’s Women’s World Cup made $131 million and doled out $30 million, according to resourcesfifa.com. I’m no mathematician, but I’m told that’s significantly more than 20 percent of collected revenue to participating teams.
Meanwhile, the 2018 men’s World Cup brought in more than $6 billion in revenue, which allowed teams to share about $400 million, according to goal.com.
Wanna know how these disturbing numbers work, my fellow hombres? That’s less than seven percent of the overall revenue.
Still not convinced?
According to Christine Rosen of commentarymagazine.com, "the women’s team collectively bargained for and won a pay structure that guarantees them salaries, severance pay, medical benefits and some performance-based pay."
As a result, the current women’s team members wanted to "guarantee a salary even for players who were on the roster, but didn’t play."
As for the men, guess how much money is guaranteed to them?
It is strictly a pay-for-play situation that includes no salary or additional benefits such as insurance or severance pay, according to Rosen.
What does that mean for the supposed privileged dudes?
Every single penny they earn is based on performance.
Wait, there’s more …
According to the Washington Examiner’s Brad Polumbo, U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro said the United States Soccer Federation pays the women more than the men.
Check out Cordeiro’s written statement below:
"Over the past decade, U.S. Soccer has paid our Women’s National Team more than our Men’s National Team. From 2010 through 2018, U.S. Soccer paid our women $34.1 million in salaries and game bonuses and we paid our men $26.4 million — not counting the significant additional value of various benefits that our women’s players receive but which our men do not."
If you refute such a statement and argue that sponsorships and TV broadcasting rights aren’t taken into account, I’ve got news for you.
Since the Federation sells those rights for both teams together, it’s nearly impossible to tell which team generates more (although TV ratings consistently show viewership for men’s soccer is much higher than for women’s soccer), according to Brennan.
Look at it this way: You work at a corporation that recently closed down a number of its stores and therefore, filed for bankruptcy. Would you strut your way to Capitol Hill, demanding that you should be paid as much as the top-tier employees at multinational behemoths such as Amazon or Apple?
For these so-called crestfallen women who claim they’re victims of sexism, the bottom line is this: make more money for your sport.
As for the Chuck Schumers, Jennifer Benderys and the rest of the members of this delusional women’s rights’ battalion, you can help this cause too.
Go to the games. Tell your friends to go. Buy a No. 15 Megan Rapinoe jersey or maybe you have a soft spot for Alex Morgan’s No. 13.
Let’s turn the 2023 Women’s World Cup into a billion-dollar industry that will give substantial raises to these magnificently skilled ladies.
And perhaps their financial success can help boost the men’s criminally low 2018 revenue.
Ceteris paribus, of course.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.