women's soccer world cup

Male athletes have always received more attention from media, fans, and sports organizations (1).

As the 2023 Women’s World Cup approaches, it is important to look back at the history. The Women’s World Cup was established by FIFA only 32 years ago in 1991 (2). This year's series in Australia and New Zealand is only the ninth year of the tournament. The Men’s World Cup was first recognized in 1930, 61 years before the women’s. They have had 22 World Cups since then, nearly tripling the amount the women have competed in. The men have had eight different countries win the trophy, but the women have only had four.

According to Forbes, the gender wage gap is prevalent all over the world in many different professions, with a woman earning only 82 cents out of every dollar that a man makes. 
According to YLE, the gap is even larger when it comes to female athletes specifically, as a woman makes 3 cents for every 1 euro a man makes.
The World Cup is no exception to that pay gap. This year, the Women’s World Cup has a prize fund of $150 million, which is a 300% increase from the last World Cup prize fund of $50 million.
However, it still does not come close to the men’s prize fund of $440 million.
In March of 2023, FIFA announced a goal to match women’s pay to men’s by 2027. The U.S. Women’s National Team filed a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer for a series of grievances including pay discrimination. They argued that they earned only 38% of the men’s compensation, along with unequal training facilities, flights, and hotels (3). In 2022, after years of court battles, the women’s team settled their equal pay lawsuit. Under the terms of the agreement, current and former players will share a $24 million settlement with U.S. Soccer, most of the money being back pay. This led to other changes in different accommodations for the Women’s World Cup. 
In the past, the women’s teams, unlike their male counterparts, were made to stay in the same hotel as their opponents. This made for awkward interactions between opponents. For the first time at the 2023 World Cup, the women’s teams will have access to team base camps. This includes a training facility and single hotel rooms for the players. Also, FIFA will accommodate a 50-person delegation for each team, compared to only 35 from the previous tournament.

Women's disadvantages in the World Cup go beyond wage differences and accommodations. In the 2015 Women's World Cup, artificial turf fields were used, whereas the men have always been able to play on natural grass. Turf fields can have many negative effects, which Alex Morgan, the two-time World Cup Champion has brought attention to.

"Not only are there long-lasting injuries but there are long-term effects of playing on turf. The achiness, taking longer to recover than on natural grass, the tendons and ligaments are, for me at least, I feel more sore after turf.” Morgan said. “ It takes longer to recover from a turf field than natural grass”
Alex Morgan
Profesionnal Football Player
FIFA has since banned artificial turf fields starting in 2023. Other steps are being taken in the right direction, including matching the same growth as the men’s. This is the first Women’s World Cup to feature 32 teams, compared to the previous two World Cups, with only 24 teams. For the first time, this is equal to the Men’s World Cup. However, the men are expanding to 48 teams by 2026. It is essential that both the men’s and women’s teams are on equal playing fields, receive equal pay, are provided equal accommodations, and are allowed to compete in similarly structured games. There is a long way to go in this battle for equality, but steps have been taken to get there for the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

(1) Even today, only 5% of TV broadcasts concern women-only competitions.

(2) Before 1991, unofficial World Cups had already been organized, notably in 1971 in Mexico, involving 6 countries including France, and in 1970 the Coppa del Mondo in Italy.

(3) The U.S. women's team has already won 4 World Cups, while the men's team has won none.

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