Gender Wage Gap in the World Cup


Growing up, fútbol was a constant source of entertainment, connection, and conversation. Every four years, I anticipated the Men’s World Cup when I would brush up on my favorite players for the Mexican team. In 2010, I remember watching the US vs. Mexico game with my family in San Luis Potosi. My dad bet on the US - he always bet on the opposing team because that way he’d be happy with the outcome either way. Mexico won, and my dad paid 100 pesos while I rode in the back of a truck with my cousins as we circled around the plaza honking the horn and yelling as loud as we could, “VIVA MEXICO!” In 2014, I remember sitting in a pub with my dad, eating sweet potato fries, and watching the heart-breaking match between Mexico and the Netherlands. When Mexico lost to a penalty kick, I cried into my fries and swore I wouldn’t watch anymore soccer. However, my dad reminded me that the Women’s World Cup was around the corner. Women’s World Cup? I thought. No way. While I spent nights dreaming about Guillermo Ochoa’s curly head of hair, I had never once thought about the Women’s World Cup.

I provide this context because it reveals how we give value to that which is under the spotlight the most. My cousins and I didn’t exchange statistics on any women players - only men. We didn’t have family viewings of the Women’s World Cup - only the Men’s. I can recall a cousin mentioning that women’s games were dull because, “Girls aren’t as fast as boys!!” I had heard this before - women’s sports are not fast enough, women’s sports are not as intense, women’s sports are boring. In other words, women are not worth as much as men. This consciousness that glorifies the work of men inherently demeans the work of women, making it less valuable. Because of this pervasive consciousness, if you google “Gender Wage Gap”, you will easily find the 2019 statistic that women make 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. More specifically, in 2018, the American Association of University Women reported that black women earn 61 cents for every dollar paid to white men and UnidosUS reported that Latinx women are typically paid 53 cents for every dollar paid to a white, non-hispanic man. In the context of the World Cup, according to BBC, FIFA awarded 30 million dollars to the teams in the women’s series, but for last year’s Men’s World Cup, the competing teams were awarded 400 million dollars, which is more than 10 times as much. 

While the women in the World Cup are speaking up and demanding fairer distributions, FIFA has also promised to invest more into the women’s games over the next three years ( However, when I reflect on my personal experience, I believe a raise in our collective social consciousness is necessary before we can begin to close the wage gap. From my personal experience (and I do not represent all Latinas), the women’s series was not on my radar growing up. Partly, because my own context valued the men’s series for reasons that resonate with my cousin’s feelings - “Girls aren’t as fast as boys!” Additionally, because the media representation for the men’s series was far more amplified in my memory. I can still remember watching Shakira’s premiere of “Waka Waka (This time for Africa)” in my high school auditorium in central Mexico. The excitement for the men’s series was palpable in the room that day; I can’t remember ever feeling so excited for a world event. Truly, I cannot recall similar media representation for the women’s series in regards to promotional efforts. Fortunately, in order to address this issue on social awareness/consciousness, FIFA has been transparent about the funding going into the women’s series’ promotion. This past season, FIFA spent 28 million dollars on the women’s soccer promotion ( Again, while funding is important, a collective effort to value the work of women is needed beyond addressing the wage gap in the world cup. 

What can we do right now? We can support our sisters. We can work together, laugh together, and cry together.  We can comment and like each other’s posts on social media. We can share each other’s articles. We can show up to each other’s concerts, public speeches, and events. We can praise each other and complement each other. We can donate to women-led organizations and support their goals by doing so. We can forgive each other. Instead of working against each other in competition, we can work towards each other in connection. 

Samantha Joo