World Cup 2019: Downer Alert

The Bad News About Women's Soccer

Things feel rosy in the Rose City, but plenty is still rotten about the state of women’s soccer, at home and around the world.

By Margaret Seiler May 28, 2019 Published in the June 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Thorns players with the Riveters after a game

While you're cheering on your favorite team (or individual players) at this year's World Cup in France, here are some things to keep in mind about the sport:

FIFA World Cup prize money for women this year is $38 million split among 24 teams, while prize money for men last year was $400 million split among 32 teams.

Players for Sky Blue FC, a team co-owned by the governor of New Jersey, have reported fields with porta-potties and no showers, and team-arranged lodging that has included a creepy-old-man housemate and a host family who expected the player to be their babysitter.

National team players suED the US Soccer federation in March for gender discrimination in pay, accommodations, and playing conditions, after a years-old Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint had gone nowhere.

African teams frequently pull out of tournaments because they can’t afford travel to away games.

Argentina’s women’s national team had to strike in 2017 to receive its promised stipend.

Brazil’s Santos FC cut its entire women’s team in 2012 to pay male player Neymar a salary that would entice him to stay in the country; he left for FC Barcelona the following year anyway.

Upon winning the Ballon d’Or, Norway’s Ada Hegerberg (who has declined to play for her country due to what she sees as the national federation’s disrespect for the women’s game) was asked if she knows how to twerk.

It took a contract with Lifetime—Lifetime! Home of dangerous-husband movies with Rob Lowe as Drew Peterson!—for the NWSL’s fifth season to get league games on TV regularly. (But now that contract’s over, so no more TV.)

The NWSL minimum salary is around $16,500; on the bright side, that’s a whole $4K over the federal poverty line for an individual!

FIFA schedulED a major men’s tournament final the same day as the 2019 Women’s World Cup championship game.

Afghan players have accused the country’s football federation of physical and sexual abuse, and of pushing contracts that take away “basic human rights.” 

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