Norway is leading the way for equal pay for female athletes, announcing Saturday it will pay its men’s and women’s national soccer teams an equal amount. The Scandinavian country said it believes it is the first nation to do so, which spurred at least one Team USA star to urge American soccer’s governing body to follow suit.
“See @USSoccer,” goalkeeper Hope Solo wrote on Twitter along with a link to a report about the news. “#Equality is possible, ethical, lawful and the right thing to do.”
Norway’s new deal for its women will nearly double its earnings, according to the Guardian. Previously, the women’s team was paid a collective yearly salary of roughly $387,000. With the new initiative, the team will make roughly $750,000. The new earnings for the women’s team will come at a cost for the men’s team, which agreed to donate a small portion of its commercial earnings, which the men’s team has received in sponsorship deals, despite putting up consistently worse performances than its female counterparts. The men’s team’s previous salary was roughly $818,000. It will drop to $750,000.
“Norway is a country where equal standing is very important for us, so I think it is good for the country and for the sport,” Norway’s players’ union head Joachim Walltin said (via the BBC).
“For the girls, it will certainly make a difference. Some of them are working and studying as well as playing soccer, and it’s hard to improve then,” he said, adding that he hopes the move will elevate the team in the eyes of fans of both sexes.”The feeling of being really respected is very important for them. The federation can see it as an investment to increase the level of the women’s team.”
It is widely common for men’s teams to make more than women’s teams, despite performance on the world stage. That holds true in the United States, where women’s players such as Solo have been campaigning for years for equal wages. Solo, as well as stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, once even filed a complaint against U.S. Soccer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In April, the U.S. women’s team made a breakthrough, convincing U.S. Soccer to boost their wages, which helped decrease the wage gap but didn’t eliminate it, although top women’s players now make more than some lower-tier players on the men’s side.
While U.S. women continue to campaign, Norway’s women’s players are rejoicing, including Caroline Graham Hansen, who has been a member of the national team since 2011. In an Instagram message posted Saturday, Graham Hansen gave special thanks to the men’s team for supporting the women’s quest and making a small sacrifice to ensure equality.
“This was maybe a small thing for you to do for us. This will maybe not show in your monthly wages. This was maybe an obvious move for you to do!” she said, addressing the men’s squad pictured. “This though means everything for us! For our team! For our sport! But not at least for all the female athletes out there, who does the same work, same sport as men’s do, but get paid less! For you to say that equal pay is how it should be, makes me wanna cry! Makes me [want to] hug you all! Thank you for making this step for female athletes. For showing equality and for helping us all, making it a bit easier, to chase our dreams. To make them come true!”