What's at stake for the USWNT at the men's World Cup
Plus: Introducing the Sylvia Fowles Holiday Special.
Hi friends. I hope that you had a phenomenal Thanksgiving, if you celebrated! I had a wonderful time seeing family, devouring turkey and side dishes, and mulling over all the many things I have to be grateful for. Of course, my Power Plays family is up at the top of that list. Thank you for reading, commenting, sharing, subscribing, and for allowing me to keep this newsletter going. You’ve changed my life these last few years.
On that note, I’m going to hyper-focus on growing our community over the next few weeks, so we can make 2023 the best year yet.
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***I’m so excited to announce the biggest sale in Power Plays history: For the first time ever, you can get an annual subscription for under $50 — $47.52 to be exact. That’s 34% off, in honor of the legendary No. 34 Sylvia Fowles. (It felt fitting for her retirement year.)***
If you’ve been on the fence about getting a paid subscription — or thinking about upgrading your monthly subscription to an annual subscription — there quite literally is no better time than now.
I’ll have much more on this in the coming days. For now, let’s do this.
Before we move on, I want to send solidarity and support to Iranian women, girls, and allies who have taken to the streets in protest following the horrific murder of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s “morality police” security forces on September 16, 2022. According to the non-profit Iran Human Rights, as of November 22, at least 416 people, including 51 minors, have been killed by the government’s response to the protests.
To help fight for civil liberties in Iran, you can donate to United for Iran and the Women’s Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran. (I found out about both organizations from PBS; if you have other suggestions of places to donate or ways to assist, please put them in the comments. )
**Edited to add: After publication, journalist Elika Sadeghi sent over two recommendations:
The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center for Human Rights in Iran (ABC), a group that has long been working on the ground in Iran to promote human rights.
Disco Tehran, a grassroots effort to get people inside Iran around the internet shutoffs by the government so they can stay connected and communicate with family, journalists, and activists outside Iran.
To support Disco Tehran, click on the Instagram link below, which has links to venmo and paypal accounts for the organization.
Today’s USMNT vs. Iran game in the men’s World Cup has huge implications for the U.S. women’s team
This is a newsletter that focuses primarily on women’s sports. So while I watch men’s sports a fair amount in my free time, I don’t usually write about them in Power Plays.
But this men’s World Cup is an exception. Because it has an extremely direct impact on women’s sports. Today, there is *at least* $1.8 million on the line for players on the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT).
That’s because when U.S. Soccer and the USWNT reached their historic equal pay agreement earlier this year, it came in the form of a joint collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between U.S. Soccer, the USWNT, and the U.S. men’s national team (USMNT).
And that CBA specified that prize money for the U.S. teams at the men’s and women’s World Cups will be pooled together and split evenly between the two teams.
Here’s the exact wording from the CBA, if such nerdery interests you:
This afternoon — Tuesday, November 29 at 2:00 p.m. ET — the USMNT will face Iran in Qatar. This is the last game in group play. If the U.S. wins, the men will make the round of 16 and advance to the single-elimination stage of the tournament. If the U.S. loses or draws, they’re out of the tournament.
There are a plethora of geopolitical subplots surrounding the game, but I'm going to zone in on the financial side of things: Teams that are eliminated in the group round of the men’s World Cup win $9 million each.; teams that lose in the round of 16 win $13 million each. Hence, at least $4 million is on the line today.
I say “at least” because it is theoretically possible for the USMNT to make it beyond the round of 16. To play out all scenarios, teams ousted in the quarterfinals get $17 million each, the fourth-place team gets $25 million, the third-place team gets $27 million, the second-place team gets $30 million, and the winner gets $42 million.
To put those numbers into context, when the USWNT won the 2015 women’s World Cup, they only won $2 million in total. When the team won the 2019 women’s World Cup, that amount was doubled to $4 million.
So, to do some more back-of-the-napkin math, if the USMNT wins today and then loses in the round of 16, they’d take home $13 million. That would mean a payout of $6.5 million to the USWNT before U.S. Soccer takes its 10 percent cut, which is more money than the women earned by winning the last two women’s World Cups *COMBINED.*
Here are some more numbers to seethe over:
The total prize money in the 2022 men’s World Cup is $440 million, which is up from $400 million in 2018.
The 2019 women’s World Cup had a total prize money pot of $30 million, up from $15 million in 2015.
The prize money for the 2023 women’s World Cup has not been officially announced yet. If it continues the trend and doubles, that would put it at $60 million — a $30 million increase from 2019.
That would widen the gap between the men’s and women’s World Cups, considering FIFA increased the men’s World Cup prize-money pool by $40 million from 2018 to 2022.
FIFA has always treated the women’s World Cup as an afterthought, which is a big reason why equal-pay deals like the one struck between the USMNT and USWNT are so important: They put more pressure on FIFA to invest in the women’s game, because now the lack of resources given to the women directly impact the men, too. Solidarity truly does matter.
Last month, FIFA president Gianni Infantino publicly bashed lowball offers for TV rights for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which was a positive sign hinting that FIFA is done accepting (and providing) the bare minimum for women. (Hey, a girl can dream!)
It’s beyond time for FIFA to step up and treat women’s soccer like the money-maker we know it can be. Until then, we’ll celebrate the wins along the way, like finally achieving true pay equality in U.S. Soccer.
I’m going to go get ready for today’s big game. I must admit, I’m feeling pretty patriotic.
To show my work for the $1.8 million figure above: I split $4 million between the men’s and women’s teams, and then gave 10 percent to U.S. Soccer, since players only get 90% of the earnings.
The men make more money, so they outperform the women. Women are receiving things they didn't earn. They can't even beat an U15 boys team from Dallas.
In athletics and entertainment, doing the same job does not entitle you to equal pay. Should WNBA players be paid the same as the NBA players? Should every male singer get paid the same as Taylor Swift? The women soccer players apparently think so. Popularity does not count. If the women are providing "equal work" than go play in the Premiere League; this may be difficult as a string of games played by Women's National Teams from several countries including the United States, has proven that women's soccer cannot even beat 13-14 year old boys--go check the record if you have the courage to do so.