Extreme pay inequality, brought to you by U.S. World Cup champions

In 2014, the German men’s team was awarded $35 million after winning the 2014 World Cup. So how much was the U.S. women’s team awarded for winning this year’s World Cup? 

Answer: A paltry-by-comparison $2 million. That’s according to a recent report by CNN.

Want some more staggering figures? The New York Daily News is reporting that the total prize money for this year’s women’s tournament was $15 million. The pot for the men’s tournament last year: $500 million.

Now, the first thought that may come to your mind here is: Well, the men’s tournament is more popular and receives more viewers than the women’s tournament.

In general, that may be the case, but consider this: The 2015 women’s World Cup final drew the largest U.S. television audience for a soccer game in human history — men’s or women’s — with an audience of 26.7 million.

FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, claims that the difference in prize money is the result of sponsorship dollars. The men’s tournament brings in far more dollars than the women’s tournament, it claims.

Again, that’s likely the case, but it’s hard to ignore the staggering difference in pay between the men’s and women’s tournaments — and it has cast yet another black cloud over FIFA, which was accused of massive corruption earlier this year.

Many of its officials were charged in the U.S. with pocketing millions in bribes. The organization also has long been accused of sexism — and this tournament certainly won’t clear up that part of its reputation.

The pay issue aside, female players had other complaints about this year’s tourney, including:

  • playing on artificial turf (apparently men are given the luxury of only having to play on grass), and
  • having to share hotels with opposing teams (something men are also not required to do).

There’s hope that the impending regime change at FIFA will help level the playing field in time for the next women’s World Cup in 2019.

Want yet another example of just how bonkers the pay disparity is between the men’s and women’s tourneys? Each of the men’s teams that were eliminated in the first round of last year’s World Cup walked away with $8 million. The U.S. men’s team, which finished 11th, got $9 million.

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