The female power in US soccer culture
Even with a truncated season due to the Pandemic, the United States Women’s National Team dominated on the pitch to the fullest extent on the wild ride that was 2020. Cruising to their 9–0 record, the USWNT scored 33 goals, easily earning their ranking as the top team in the world.
They’ve sat atop this global soccer throne for the past five years, and have collected the hardware to back up their claim. Of course, the USWNT has always been a top team to beat dating back to the first Women’s World Cup tournament in 1991 where they beat Norway in the final at China’s Tianhe Stadium.
The impact of this overwhelming success has had far-reaching reverberations beyond the almighty realm of professional soccer. In areas where players come from, girls youth soccer is on the rise. The latest championship team featured two players from Arizona, Julie Ertz and Jessica McDonald, leading to the optimism of Phoenix, AZ soccer coach, Barb Chura.
Chura stated, “[Y]oung girls have been captured by what the United States women have done and high school-age girls will now see the potential of making a living by playing the sport, so ultimately they may get more involved.”
This blossoming regional popularity has added to the strengthening nationwide popularity of soccer at the youth level. In the 2018–2019 season, more players participated in high school soccer than ever before, and a record 394,105 girls played.
Of course, the team is fighting for more than just championships and gender parity in youth participation. The team’s success has united many Americans around a greater battle: the battle against the gender wage gap. Despite their dominance, and the relative failures of the United States Men’s National Team, the female players earn significantly less money than their male counterparts. While many factors play into this disparity, it is undeniable that the differences are unfair to the players that have brought the most success to the United States.
After bringing their complaints against the United States Soccer Federation to court in 2019, the USWNT has gathered immense steam in their battle for equal pay, representing the cultural vanguard in the decades old battle.
While a recent ruling from a federal judge in California did not go their way, the team, known for their grit and persistence, are gearing up for an appeal, amassing more supporters along the way.
Their battle for social progress paralleled by their immense global success has cemented the USWNT in soccer legend. Despite an inability to play for another championship in a pandemic-altered season, the team is sure to continue their battle for equality off the field and dominance on the field into the new year.