USA! USA!

Equal pay! Equal pay!

I’m still giddy from the 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the 2019 World Cup. I’ll never forget the wild confidence, grace, grit and utter jubilation on display in every World Cup game our women played and won.

How powerful to hear the most popular of all soccer chants, “Equal pay! Equal pay!” ring from the stadium in Lyon, France.

My 10-year-old grandson was glued to every game. Me, too. We loved watching those ponytails fly. Our women never buckled under pressure, even with heads colliding, cleats flying and blood flowing.

Our 2019 World Cup winners blew me away. There was Alex Morgan sipping a spot of tea against England the weekend we celebrated our independence from the crown. They were cocky and confident, brave and bold, resilient and relentless, fierce and fun.

The Big Apple gave the U.S. women’s national soccer team a ticker-tape parade. It’s time to give them something more.

They just won their fourth World Cup title. What will they do next?

Disney? Nope. They will be in court battling for equal pay. The fight isn’t just for them, but for all women.

Here’s a quick test: The U.S. women’s team has won four World Cups. How many World Cups has the U.S. men’s team won?

Zero.

Yet the men are paid more to play and to win.

The big pot of gold at the end of the victory for the women’s team is $30 million. How much is the men’s World Cup worth? $400 million.

Yes, you read that correctly.

U.S. Soccer will plea that the women bring in less revenue and fewer fans.

The president of FIFA, the soccer federation that oversees the tournament, was booed by fans. He said the winner’s pot will be doubled in 2023 for the next women’s World Cup. That’s still only $60 million compared to the men’s $400 million.

American midfielder Megan Rapinoe, my new shero, is the best player on the team and one giant purple-haired megaphone for equality. She and her 27 teammates are suing the federation for gender discrimination.

The team claims they are discriminated against because they are paid less than the men’s national team “for substantially equal work” and are denied “equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games.”

Rapinoe told The New York Times: “We – all players, every player at this World Cup – put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for. We can’t do anything more, to impress more, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better, to do anything. It’s time to move that conversation forward to the next step.”

The New York Times editorial said, “It is difficult to understand the argument that the United States women’s national soccer team should get paid just as much as the men’s national soccer team.”

“They women are much more successful. They should earn more.”

Amen to that.

Both teams represent the same country. Why are the women treated less when they truly are more successful? We’ve come a long way, baby, but not far enough.

We’ve come a long way from 1970, back when my high school had two gyms: one for the boys and one for the girls. The new one? That was where the boy’s played sports. The dingy, smelly, leaky basement gym? That would be ours.

Women like Mia Hamm broke the mold. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion is considered a soccer icon. She’s famous for saying, “My coach said I ran like a girl. I said if he could run a little faster he could too”

Women athletes are a force to be reckoned with. They not only want to win and do, they want our daughters and granddaughters to know they can do and be anything, and should be paid the same as a man who does it.

This popular meme keeps popping up on Facebook. It describes the U.S. soccer pay gap in the simplest of terms:

Exhibition games per year: Men 20. Women 20.

Player pay for game win: Men $17,625. Women $1,350

Player pay for game loss: Men $5,000. Women $0.

Player pay for making World Cup team: Men $68,750. Women $15,000.

Team pay for World Cup performance: Men $9 million (even though the team lost.) Women $2 million (even though they won it all.)

Quality of team: Men – Pretty OK. Women – Off the charts.

Our women athletes played like world champions.

They ARE world champions.

It’s time we paid them like world champions.

Connect with her on Facebook at ReginaBrettFans. 2019 Ohio SPJ Best Columnist.

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Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Columbus Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Columbus Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.