We won! The USA is #1 in women’s soccer for the first time in 16 years. And what a way to do it. The first 20 minutes of the game with an incredible hat trick from superstar midfielder Carli Lloyd was not only a magical moment for soccer fans, but also great television and great advertising for first-time soccer viewers. Monday morning conversations at offices across America were littered with “Wambach, 5-2, and 1999.” But in the end, what does this do for soccer in America?
Quite a bit actually. We saw a renewed excitement not just by girls but by boys who couldn’t care less if it was men or women playing. We saw new heroes, record TV numbers, and rising stars. According to NPR, the United States/Japan final at its peak was viewed by 22.86 million viewers, the most watched soccer game in U.S television history, eclipsing the 2011 final by almost 15 million viewers.
Fox garnered approximately $17 million in ad revenue from the one match, and according to the Washington Post, the ratings for the U.S. women’s games averaged higher than both the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals. Univision even broke records with 1.27 million viewers of the Spanish language broadcast, making it the most watched women’s soccer game in the network’s history.
While these are tremendous feats, and huge steps for not just women’s soccer, but soccer as a whole in America, there are still important issues that need to be addressed when it comes to women’s sports. According to multiple sources, including ESPN’s Randy Scott, the total winnings won by the World Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team was $2,000,0000. In comparison, the German team that won the men’s version of the FIFA World Cup last summer shared $35,000,000. Some teams that lost in the first round earned $8,000,000.
The United States is currently the gold standard for women’s soccer. According to World Soccer Talk, while women’s soccer players in the National Women’s Soccer League can’t expect to make enough money to live on that salary alone, the talented athletes selected to represent the country can expect to realistically get by. Few stars like Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach can even expect to earn six to seven figures after sponsorships are taken into account. If there is one thing we learned from this World Cup, it’s that progress has been made. But there is still a long journey ahead before equality is reached.