The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) has released financial information from April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015. The latest statement shines light on the fact that the USSF spent three times more on men’s soccer than it did on women’s. Hmm…
It’s worth noting that this info is pre-Canada 2015, and that men’s national team expenses increased in large part because of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – with spending skyrocketing from $18.73 to $31.12 million – but the statistics are still significant for a number of reasons.
Let’s start with coaching salaries. Jürgen Klinsmann has somewhere around $2.5 million to his name in relation to his precarious position at the helm of the USMNT. Compare this to world champion Jill Ellis, whose contract reportedly tops out at $215,000. Ugh. I could give less of a fuck if this is the upper rate for female coaches internationally. Why is this the upper rate for women? This is not okay in the slightest, IMO.
While a mere $10.31 million (up from $8.27m) was spent on the women’s national team in comparison to the upwards of $30 million dished out for the men, the USSF more than doubled its support for our domestic women’s league, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). If you haven’t started to follow, you most definitely should! This is a good thing! Costs shot up from $671,000 last year to $1.43 million this past year, and – to our great elation – the NWSL looks set for an elusive fourth season with 10 teams. Previously, no American women’s professional soccer league had ever made it out of its third season. Apparently, the USSF’s agreement to manage the league was set to expire this coming December, but it looks like said contract will be (slash has already been) extended for another year.
A key element to keep in mind in relation to the federation’s support for the league is that U.S. Soccer, along with the Mexican Football Federation and Canada Soccer, pays salaries for a select group of allocated national team all-stars (including 25 U.S. players and four Mexican internationals). Not only does this ensure that the best of the best of our homegrown talent develops in the U.S., it gives clubs room to grow and spend on lesser-known talent.
The caveat? USSF, similarly to FIFA, is (and has always been) a boys’ club through and through.
The caveat? USSF, similarly to FIFA, is (and has always been) a boys’ club through and through. So it shouldn’t surprise you in the slightest to hear that this “lesser-known talent,” these non-national team players, compete on salaries that range from less than $7,000 to $37,800 max. This – coupled with the league’s current expansion efforts, a most likely stagnant budget and fewer allocated stars to go around – leaves us in a predicament. What do we do to ensure sustainability and support into the league’s fourth season and beyond? Do we get upset about the disparity between the men’s and women’s games, or do we chalk spending differences up to a spike in operational costs and find solace in the fact that domestic league support has risen? Do we see if there is potential for an MLS takeover in an effort to provide more support? Do the USSF and Mexican Football Federation dish out more funds to allocate more players so that teams like my beloved Boston Breakers don’t get shafted?
As always, I’ll jump on the women for leadership roles in USSF and FIFA bandwagon any day. In my mind, there’s no reason why Klins should make so much more than Ellis, why support should not be more equivocal. NWSL and women’s soccer hype is growing (hopefully not a steep jump followed by a quick decline post-World Cup glory). Stephanie Yang recently cited a league-wide attendance bump of 22 percent from 4,139 to 5,046 over the past year. I want to see the same hype from the dudes at the top of the ladder! For now, I guess we have to wait and see what the Women’s World Cup stats have to say.