The Good, Bad and Ugly about FIFA Women’s World Cup

It was so exciting to see the U.S. Women’s National Team win the Women’s World Cup yesterday.  I watched many Women’s World Cup (WWC) matches over the last few weeks (i.e., not just those involving the US) and noticed some interesting differences between World Cup Soccer as played by women and men.

  • WWC had far fewer yellow cards–and no red cards for flagrant and dangerous fouls
  • No biting (then again, no Luis Suarez playing)
  • WWC had fewer flagrant dives (acrobatic efforts to elicit a foul from the referees, even though no foul was committed)

There were just as many low-scoring games, just as much drama, and just as much excitement as men’s World Cup.  The France-Germany game was particularly spectacular, ending in penalty kicks.

And yet there is a significant, ugly difference between the men’s and women’s World Cup.  FIFA paid the US Women’s National Team $2 million for winning it all–but last year they paid men’s world cup soccer teams $8 million, even if they lost in the first round.  What makes it worse is that FIFA doesn’t see anything wrong with the pay inequity.

Now I get it that the WWC may not attract as many advertisers or as much international interest, despite big gains in viewers this year (highest ratings for women’s world cup matches–ever).  So some could argue that women deserve less money because they bring in less revenue to FIFA.  But given the allegations of rampant corruption in the FIFA organization, even that argument seems weak.  And when FIFA’s General Secretary says paying women the same is “nonsense,” and that it will take 23 more World Cups for them to achieve pay equity (that’s another 92 years), well that’s just wrong.


cathy-standiford Cathy Standiford is passionately committed to improving the lives of women and girls, locally and globally, and advocating for their basic human rights. Cathy served as 2009-2010 President of Soroptimist International of the Americas,’s sponsoring organization: a global volunteer organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment.

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