Lesson Plan

Soccer, Salaries and Sexism

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GRADE LEVEL: Middle School

COMMON CORE STANDARDS: Reading, Speaking and Listening, Language

Updated February 2022

U.S. Women's Soccer Team Files a Gender Discrimination Suit

On March 8, 2019 (International Women’s Day), the U.S. women’s soccer team filed a gender discrimination suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, which governs soccer in the U.S. The soccer team’s complaint alleges pay inequities, and inferior support and working conditions. In their statement released by the team, the players described “institutionalized gender discrimination” that they say has existed for years. This lawsuit raises the larger issue of equity in women’s sports and has prompted a conversation about the history of women and sports.

In May 2020, the U.S. District Court Judge for the Central District of California rejected the team's argument over receiving lower pay than the U.S. men's team. He also dismissed a claim of unequal working conditions related to the number of turf and real grass pitches. After the ruling, a spokesperson for the team promised that the team "will appeal and press on." In February 2022, a settlement about compensation was reached. The players, a group of several dozen current and former players, will share $24 million in payments from U.S. Soccer.

Is there Equal Pay for Women in U.S. Soccer?

According to The Wall Street Journal, audited financial statements indicate U.S. women’s soccer games have generated more revenue than U.S. men’s games over the past three years, but the players still earn less. In 2016, women’s games generated $1.9 million more in revenue than men’s games. From 2016 to 2018, women’s games generated approximately $50.8 million in revenue, compared with $49.9 million for men’s games.

About this Lesson Plan

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the U.S. women’s soccer team’s lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, understand this history of women, sports and Title IX and reflect on how sexism manifests in a variety of ways in women’s sports.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will learn about how and why the U.S. women's soccer team is suing U.S. Soccer.
  • Students will gain knowledge in the history and impact of Title IX.
  • Students will understand what sexism is and how it manifests in sports.
  • Students will reflect on possible actions to take in addressing sexism in sports.