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Fighting off Field: Equal Pay for U.S. Soccer Players

June 1, 2016

Our national women’s soccer team has fought impressive battles on the field. They’ve won three Women’s World Cups (in 1991, 1999, and 2015) and four Olympic gold medals (in 1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012). Now five of our champions, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo, are fighting pay discrimination.

The wage gap has been a hot-button issue in the past decade with President Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009. Today, women in the United States are still paid 79 percent of what American men are paid. Unfortunately, a worse pay gap affects women on the soccer field. It’s said that the athletes on the U.S. women’s national soccer team earn between 38 percent and 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn for each international exhibition match. They earned less for their World Cup qualifying bonuses and even received less per diem as well.

It’s not just women soccer players who are being short changed. The same predicament impacts female athletes in other sports as well. For instance, participants of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) were paid five times less than the men in the PGA. In 2015 the minimum salary for the WNBA player was $38,913, while the minimum salary for NBA players was $525,093.

It is because of injustice like this that Lloyd, Morgan, Rapinoe, Sauerbrunn, and Solo have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of their entire team. But fighting for equal pay isn’t the only way that these noble women fight injustice. Hope Solo is a representative for the Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization that strives to “advance the lives of women and girls through sports.” And Megan Rapinoe participated in a public awareness movement for the Human Rights Campaign. For their courageous, fighter spirit, these five athletes should definitely be considered Mindful Athletes.

Gender inequality in sports is a problem that affects female athletes across the world. Want to learn more about women who are fighting this injustice in sports? Check out this Mindful article about female athletes from the 2012 Olympic Games.

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