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Atlanta MLS coach on equal pay: 'It's ridiculous'

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Published in Breaking News
Tuesday, 13 August 2019 11:07

Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer has said he does not believe in equal pay for men and women in football, or sports such as tennis, because women don't bring in as much revenue, according to a report.

"I think for me, it's ridiculous," De Boer told The Guardian when asked about the plans for equal pay. "It's the same like tennis. If there are watching, for the World Cup final, 500 million people or something like that, and 100 million for a women's final, that's a difference. So it's not the same. And of course they have to be paid what they deserve to [earn] and not less, just what they really deserve. If it's just as popular as the men, they will get it, because the income and the advertising will go into that. But it's not like that, so why do they have to earn the same? I think it's ridiculous. I don't understand that."

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De Boer represented the Netherlands at the 1994 and 1998 men's World Cups, and the Dutch women reached the final of the 2019 Women's World Cup before losing, 2-0, to the U.S. women in July.

The Royal Dutch Football Association has already pledged pay equity for its men's and women's teams. The women will receive yearly raises through 2023, when their earnings for national team service will equal that of their male counterparts. The U.S. women, meanwhile, sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, arguing that their pay and working conditions amounted to gender discrimination.

De Boer, the former Ajax coach who took over as manager for the defending MLS champions in December 2018, disagrees with gender pay gaps in the workplace but says they are still warranted in sports.

"I think it started because a woman [was] getting underpaid, especially at [managerial] positions," he told the newspaper. "They have to earn the same as a man. I think if you have a manager position for a bank or something, you have to earn the same what the men did because it's not physically, just only here [points to head], so why do you have to earn less, because you're doing the same job as a man? I think that's also dropped a little bit into the sports world, like tennis and soccer. But I think that's still different."

U.S. players, including Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, say they have been consistently paid less than their male counterparts despite performing better. The prize money for the women's World Cup doubled to $30 million this year, but this paled in comparison to the €400m ($448m) available for the men's tournament winners last year. Last week, the U.S. Soccer Federation hired the services of two lobbying firms to counter the U.S. women's claims, a USSF spokesperson confirmed to ESPN FC. In the wake of the U.S. women's team's World Cup victory, legislation was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives requiring the USSF to pay players on the respective U.S. women's and men's national team equally.

The 2019 Women's World Cup final drew 22% more viewers in the United States than the 2018 men's final, according to data from Nielsen cited by Fox Sports. The U.S. men did not play in the 2018 final, which saw France beat Croatia, 4-2.

According to Nielsen data for U.S. viewership, 14.3 million tuned in to the Women's World Cup final via linear television, compared with 11.4 million for the 2018 men's final. The addition of online streaming put total viewership at 20 million via Fox Sports, making it the most-watched soccer match on U.S. English-language television, men's or women's, since the 2015 Women's World Cup final, which saw 25.4 million viewers.

According to a report in CNN, an additional 1.6 million viewers watched the final match in Spanish on Telemundo in the United States.

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