“Shocking and Disappointing”: Female Soccer Players Discuss National Team’s Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

Despite being the most successful women’s soccer team in history, players for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, claim that they are not being paid fairly, are forced to play on fake turf while the men get real grass, and take commercial flights while their male counterparts fly charter, among countless other complaints. Their rancor has culminated in a lawsuit filed in March against the U.S. Soccer Administration alleging widespread gender discrimination.

Many members of Chapman’s Women’s soccer team hadn’t even heard of the lawsuit – but they had strong feelings about the conditions their professional sisters allegedly endured, and about discrimination in sports.

Jessica Roux, freshman software engineering major

Although Chapman is a Division III school, Roux wouldn’t consider herself “working any less hard than a Division I athlete or taking care of my body less.” Roux finds the vast pay discrepancy between male and female professional soccer players “shocking and disappointing.”

Jessica Roux believes women and men work equally hard in athletics and should be paid accordingly. Photo by Emilio Mejia

Alex Morgan is the highest paid female U.S. soccer player, earning $450,000 a year. Yet the highest paid U.S. male soccer player, Michael Bradley, makes a whopping $6 million not including revenue from endorsement deals. Yet, the most recent women’s world cup final was the most popular televised match in U.S. soccer history, attracting a total of 23 million viewers.

“Women work just as hard as men,” and go to just as much effort to train and stay in shape, Roux said.

Elly Aronson, junior news and documentary major

Gender discrimination “always stays in the back of my mind” said Aronson who described the the lawsuit allegations as “heartbreaking.” Yet, she’s grateful that unequal treatment of female athletes is in the news.

“I wish change was coming much faster, but I’m glad awareness is finally being brought to the national spotlight,” she added. Aronson won’t let discrimination discourage her, though: “I’ve always competed for myself” she affirms.

Madie Bigcas (left) and Elly Aronson (right) unite in their condemning of female athlete’s treatment. Photo by Emilio Mejia

Madie Bigcas, sophomore communication studies major

Madie Bigcas was dismayed by the comments of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, after being asked in 2015 how to increase viewership for women’s matches: “Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could, for example, have tighter shorts… female players are pretty. If you forgive me for saying so.” Sepp Blatter is currently four years into a six-year ban from all FIFA related activities.

“It really puts things in perspective when someone that high up says something like that. You’re there for the game, not to see women’s butts,” Bigcas said.

“It’s hard to hear” the way that the national women’s team claims it is being treated, but Bigcas said, “I don’t let it get to me.”

The U.S. women’s team consistently draws more eyes and fills more seats than the men’s team. However, these numbers have not translated into financial incentives.

Bailee Cochran, junior business major

International women’s soccer games are commonly played on artificial turf, whereas men’s games are played on grass. The players have made their disapproval for this quite clear: playing on turf provides significantly more challenges than playing on grass. Often, the temperature of the turf can teach 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which results in painful, large burns on the player’s skin if they perform a slide tackle. In addition to injuries, there are questions about the correlation between long-term exposure to artificial turf and cancer clusters.

A photo of turf burn as a result of playing on artificial grass. Photo by Pavel on Adobe Stock

“I try not to expect things” Cochran when it comes to the double standards to which female athletes are subjected. “I focus on going out to play my hardest… if I love something, I’m going to give it my all” she adds, “I’m going to do the things I love and not think of anything else.”

Emilio Mejia

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