The division between the USA Men's National team and the USA Women's National team grows daily. To the outsider, watching the women play compares to a beautiful orchestra, and watching the men draws comparisons to my 6th grade trombone stylings (hint, wasn't very good). Our national team on the woman's side continues to win championships, with the biggest one at the 2015 World Cup.
The men struggle, typically just doing enough to get out of the group stage in the World Cup, but going nowhere after. Other smaller countries such as Jamaica and Guatemala have knocked the USA off in critical games in the last couple of years.
How do we explain the massive talent gulf between the two sides? This author believes that our most talented male athletes take on other sports such as football and basketball and the rest of the world puts their entire efforts into soccer. Women in our country do not have many options in the professional realm. Making money in the WNBA is scarce unless you are the best of the best. There are few other money-making sports that women can participate in.
However, this article isn't about fixing the actual talent. Sadly, the two sides have divided themselves over two serious issues. First, the women have recently filed a lawsuit regarding the wages earned, which are laughably lower than the men. Second, retired women's star Abby Wambach took some shots last year regarding the foreign-born players on the US Men's squad, creating a firestorm back and forth between the two sides, culminating in jokes towards Wambach after a recent arrest for DUI.
Here's how we fix this stuff in an hour:
Pay the ladies. If the US Women win an international friendly (a game between countries that does not have impact on tournament play), each member of the team receive $1,350. If the US Men LOSE a friendly, each participant takes home $5,000. Winning a game against a FIFA Top 10 nets the Men $17,625, the women get $1,350. To make matters worse, the federation spent $30 million on the men's team in 2015 compared to $11 million for the women. The bottom line is that the federation has money. Even if the pay cannot be equal (for whatever reason), the gap must be closed substantially.
Both sides need to buck up and apologize. Abby Wambach needs to understand what this country was founded on. Everyone has relatives from another country, we are all immigrants one way or another. Abby's comments were wrong. And the men who made a snarky comment about her DUI (Jozy Altidore, Alejandro Bedoya) should never have clicked "send" on their Twitter accounts. They owe an apology to Abby for her costly error in judgment.
Having a unified federation is very important for the future of the entire soccer program. For the most part, the powerful programs in men's soccer typically have a very good program with the women's team (France, England, Brazil, Germany). Having a rift between the two parties will do both sides a massive disservice going forward.
Thanks to NY CBS Local for the dollar figures.