A record number of Americans found a new source of pride during the July 4th holiday weekend as they
cheered on the U.S. soccer team in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Women internationally also learned once
again how under-valued they are financially by the world’s major sports organizations.
The showdown took place Sunday on the Fox Network as a record-setting 25.4 million viewers tuned in
(along with 1.3 million viewers on Telemundo) to watch a sizzling American team
face the defending Japanese champions, who beat them in a heartbreaking 2011 championship game and
were again in top form. The Americans last won in 1999. This year’s viewership was the most for any soccer
game, men or women’s, shown on English-language television in America.
The U.S.team initially was focused on defense, thanks to the brilliant performance of goalie Hope Solo, who
shut out four teams in a row and was on a record-breaking streak.
Then the first 16 minutes of the showdown with Japan set a new kind of record: four quick goals against
a shocked Japanese defense – three by midfielder Carli Lloyd. The final winning score was
5-2 for the Americans.
The celebration continued Monday at a rally in Los Angeles as the victors were welcomed back
stateside from Vancouver, Canada and will continue with an unprecedented ticker tape parade in New York
on Friday and a visit to the White House in the future. But the coverage also dramatized how underpaid the
winners were by international organizers FIFA — $2 million for the victors, compared to the $8 million
awarded to men’s soccer teams who lose in the first round. The total payoff for the Women’s World Cup will
be $15 million this year compared to the Men’s World Cup total last year of $576 million, nearly 40 times as
much. Despite earning billions in revenues, FIFA also forced women, but not men, to play on artificial turf,
increasing the risk of injuries and resulting in a gender discrimination lawsuit filed in Canadian court.
FIFA has agreed to let women play on grass in 2019.
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