Despite the US Women’s National Team seeing significantly more success than their counterparts with the Men’s Team, they lack the same equality. The popularity with the general public and inspiration they’ve provided for younger girls is great, but there is a lack of investment in the women’s game. Megan Rapinoe said to USA Today Sports, “I would like to see a major paradigm shift, a major overhaul. Realizing that there’s been such a lack of investment all of these years and such a lack of care and attention that doubling, tripling or quadrupling investment, care and attention to the women’s game would be appropriate.”
The women’s national team has sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination, saying that the federation favors the men’s team despite the lack of success on the men’s side. Here is where brands come into play. U.S. Soccer partners, such as Luna Bars and Adidas, have stepped in and said they will bridge the gap between the men’s and women’s team surrounding performance bonuses, which is a sum around $720,000. A few weeks ago, Visa announced a five-year sponsorship deal with U.S. Soccer that requires at least 50% of the money be directed to the women’s national team and other programs that benefit the growth of the game for girls. As a part of its new partnership, Visa will become the title sponsor of the She Believes Cup. Mary Ann Reilly, Visa’s SVP of North American Marketing told USA Today Sports, “It’s time for us to be helping to take a stand and empower women of all ages to pursue their passion, whether it be on the field or in the boardroom.”
Why We Like It
This type of movement towards equality is long overdue. Despite the fact that ratings ultimately drive sponsorship dollars, this shouldn’t continue to creep into performance bonuses as well programs and initiatives. The federation and sponsors should invest in both sides of the game, despite the disparity in performance between the men’s and women’s team. Especially if we want to encourage more girls to play sports and curb the alarming trend of girls dropping out of sports, we need to invest in our women sports at all levels – from professional to youth sports.
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