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

Our national women’s soccer team has fought impressive battles on the field. They’ve won three Women’s World Cups (1991, 1999, and 2015) and four Olympic gold medals (1996, 2004, 2008, and 2012). Now five of our champions are fighting pay discrimination. Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of their entire team. As part of their complaint, the soccer stars are demanding that the women’s national team players receive equal pay to the men’s national team players. In 2016, you’d think this would be a fair and simple request, but the U.S. Soccer Federation refuses to agree. In fact, the U.S. Soccer Federation has filed a defense against the complaint and it could take a while to resolve the issue.

Sports and pay discrimination

The wage gap has been a hot-button issue for decades. While President Obama did sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009, it was just a start. 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. For instance, participants of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) were paid five times less than the men in the PGA. And in 2015 the minimum salary for the WNBA player was $38,913, while the minimum salary for NBA players was $525,093.

A Mindful Fight for Equal Pay

It is because of injustice in sports that Lloyd, Morgan, Rapinoe, Sauerbrunn, and Solo have stood their ground. 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 spirits, these five athletes are definitely Mindful Athletes that should inspire us all to fight harder.

Gender inequality in sports is a problem that affects female athletes across the world. If you’re looking for more examples of Mindful athletes, check out this article about female competitors from the 2012 Olympic Games.

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