#PRFAIL: Big Fat Red Card on the U.S. Soccer Federation


We’ve just pulled through March Madness, and now we’re about to bite our nails over the Final Four. Before that we had the Super Bowl. And then before the holidays it was the World Series. The Masters are next weekend, and before long we’ll have the Stanley Cup.

Different sports, but they all have something in common: the players are men. Would you believe me if I told you we have a Women’s National Soccer Team?

Okay, I exaggerate, but only to establish a principle: women’s sports get only a fraction of the airtime and promotion of their male counterparts (only 4% of all media),1 and as a result, female professional athletes receive much less benefits and pay. At the forefront of changing this reality are 28 female soccer players, all Women’s National Team members. They’ve just filed a lawsuit (after previous EEOC complaints) alleging that their employer the U.S. Soccer Federation “has stubbornly refused to treat its female employees equally to its male employees.”2

The numbers don’t lie: women earn less than $4,950 a game if they win 20 non-tournament games in a season, while men earn an average of $13,116 for the same performance.3 The women’s team is also sadly under marketed compared to the men’s, which makes the recognition disparity even worse.

Perhaps the most egregious aspect of this inequality, which lands it squarely into the category of #PRFAIL for U.S. Soccer, is that the women’s team has been ranked #1 in the world for the last 10 OUT OF 11 YEARS, while the men’s team most recently failed to even qualify for the World Cup! And the men are STILL making more money! More people watch men’s soccer, yes, but this drastic pay inequality hardly incentivizes more talented women to pick up and continue the sport. It’s just plain not right.

Sports is probably one arena where the issue of equal pay is most pronounced, but the bad PR it continues to cause for the U.S. Soccer Federation serves as a reminder to everyone else who employs both men and women. Cover your bases by designing pay and benefits around equity – avoid a PR firestorm in this inclusion-conscious environment, and do it because it’s the right thing to do.

  1. Kish, Matthew. “Adidas Calls for Equal Airtime for Women’s Sports.” com, 8 Mar. 2019, www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2019/03/adidas-calls-for-equal-airtime-for-womens-sports.html.
  2. Guzior, Betsey. “Soccer Players Sue for Equal Treatment, Pay.” com, 11 Mar. 2019, www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/news/latest-news/2019/03/soccer-players-sue-for-equal-treatment-pay.html.
  3. Ibid.

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