The 2015 Women’s World Cup did more than show how awesome women’s professional soccer is — it also revealed just how little US society values women.
Watch this video to learn how blatantly entrenched US misogyny really is.
The Editors at Everyday Feminism
Click for the Transcript
The 2015 Women’s World Cup ended just a few days ago and the United States beat out 23 other countries from around the world to defeat Japan in an amazing 5-2 final. Carly Lloyd scored a hat trick for the United States, meaning she scored 3 goals in 1 game, making her the only person since 1966 to score a hat trick in a World Cup final for men or women. For their victory, FIFA, the international organization that organizes the World Cup, is awarding the American women 2 million dollars.
Wait a second. Last year, during the 2014 Men’s World Cup, the men barely made it out of the first stage group play and then lost in the next round, the round of 16, against Belgium. For their loss, they made 8 million dollars. The men were rewarded 4 times as much money for losing the tournament as the women were for winning the tournament. The winners of the men’s tournament, Germany, made 35 million dollars, which is nearly 18 times as much as the women made.
Sorry Riley, that’s just business. People prefer to watch men’s sports, so the men are going to get paid more. First of all, it’s still a problem if people prefer to watch men’s sports. Secondly, the reason that people supposedly prefer men’s sports over women’s sports is because that’s all we show them. A recent study published on the Journal of Communication and Sport, found that ESPN’s Sports Center only devotes 2% of its time to women’s sports, 2% … Not only that, but despite the US Women having won 3 World Cup titles, you still can’t watch professional, American women’s soccer on TV.
I bet you don’t even know what the women’s professional soccer league in the United States is called. The men have MLS, Major League Soccer, but the women have the NWSL, the National Women’s Soccer League. While the MLS is a 20 team league, the NWSL is a 9 team league. The minimum salary in the MLS is $60,000 a year, whereas the minimum salary in the NWSL is $6,842 a year. That’s right, good luck making that your full-time job. Remind me again how the wage gap doesn’t exist.
Yet, Carly Lloyd, the woman I mentioned earlier, who scored a hat trick for the United States and also won the Golden Ball for outstanding player in the World Cup … She plays for the Houston Dash, a team whose games are aired on YouTube instead of television. I love YouTube, clearly, but that’s not where sports fans are. Sports fans are watching TV. In fact, no NWSL games are televised. These women are literally the best at what they do in entire world and we don’t televise them. That will kind of be changing this fall, because Fox has agreed to air 6 NWSL games on Fox Sports 1, out of the more than 90 games that they play in a season.
Likewise, the production values on women’s soccer matches are just lower. They have worse camera angles, fewer close-ups, fewer slow-mo replays and they don’t advertise them like they do with men’s soccer. No one’s going to know that women’s soccer exists unless you advertise it and no one’s going to stick around unless it has the production values that they’ve come to associate with men’s soccer. Despite all of this, millions of Americans tuned in to watch the World Cup this year. The USA versus Germany semi-final match was the most watched semi-final match in the United States for men or women, with 8.4 million viewers. On top of that, 20 million Americans tuned in to watch the World Cup final this year, which is more than the 17 million that tuned in to watch the men’s cup last year. Despite these numbers, American advertisers just did not get behind the women’s World Cup.
Last year, ESPN made 529 million dollars off of ads for the men’s World Cup, but this year, Fox only made 17 million off of ads from the women’s World Cup. You would think that at least in advertising, companies would see this huge viewership and be lining up at the door to get an ad in. Apparently, women’s sports just aren’t worth their time, even when millions are watching. Globally, women’s soccer is still substantially less popular, but that’s all the more reason that we need to get behind it and hype it up.
The United States might be a joke when it comes to men’s soccer, but we can lead the world in women’s soccer. There’s more to all of this then just salary and equality. This year’s women’s World Cup was played on artificial turf, instead of natural grass. If you don’t play soccer, that might now sound like a big deal, but trust me, it is. Artificial turf is made of plastic and rubber. Imagine running and sliding on a field of hot, dry rubber. It hurts. I’ve played soccer a lot and I’ve slid on turf and it is freaking painful. You can easily finish a game with your legs all torn up and covered in blood. Sliding happens all the time in soccer and there’s just no way around that, plus turf gets extremely hot when it’s exposed to sunlight.
A study published in the Journal of Turfgrass and Sports Science found that on average, artificial turf gets 69 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than its natural grass, counterpart. In fact, a Fox Sports sideline reporter measured the turf at the opening game of the women’s World Cup this year and found that the turf was 120 degrees, which is really hot, but it’s even hotter when you realize that a BYU study found that it’s not safe for anyone to play on turf over 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat radiating from the field can affect player’s performances and the field, itself, can be hot to the touch.
Some Australian players have said that it’s like playing on hot coals and some Swedish players have said that they tape their toes to prevent burns. Every men’s World Cup ever, has been played on grass and FIFA has no plans to change that. However, they force the women to play on turf this year, which prompted a gender discrimination lawsuit from several of the players from different countries against the International Soccer Organization. The players eventually dropped their case after FIFA continually delayed until it was too late to change the fields, but FIFA did agree to host the 2019 women’s World Cup on grass.
As long as we’re making comparisons here, it’s worth noting how very different the men’s and women’s World Cups have been, in relation to LGBTQ rights. The head coach of the US Women’s National Team, Jill Ellis, is openly lesbian and after winning their final against Japan, Abby Wambach ran to the stands to kiss her wife. In total, 17 players and/or coaches from this year’s Women’s World Cup were openly lesbian, bisexual or queer. You can compare that to the 0 from the men’s World Cup last year. FIFA awarded the next 2 men’s World Cups to Russia and Qatar, 2 countries known for their violently homophobic laws, whereas the women will be playing in France in 2019.
I just really love women’s soccer and I hope that it can get the backing that it needs to be extremely popular and I think the best way that we can do that is by creating demand. I’ll put some links down below so you can check out the NWSL matches and some international women’s matches. This video is a part of a series I’m doing for Everyday Feminism, a website dedicated to helping you stand up to and break down every day oppression. I’ll put some links down below so you can check out their website, as well as my previous videos in the series.
That’s all I have for this video. I hope you have a wonderful day. I love you all and I will see you next week, bye. Here you go, soccer skills, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, no …
To learn more about this topic, check out:
- Why We Need More Positive Representations of Women in Sports Media and How We Can Support Them
- The Wage Gap Isn’t a Myth (Really, It Isn’t) – Here Are 4 Reasons Why
Riley J. Dennis is a Contributing Vlogger for Everyday Feminism. She’s a polyamorous, atheist, gender non-binary trans woman with a passion for fiction writing, feminism, and technology. She got her BA from Whittier College in 2015 doing a self-designed major called Writing Worlds, a mixture of creative writing and anthropology, focused on realistic fictional world building. Find her on her YouTube channel, Twitter @RileyJayDennis, or her website RileyJayDennis.com.