Women's World Cup Winners' Prize Money Is Less Than The Worst Men's Teams

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The United States triumphed over Japan to win the 2015 Women's World Cup on Sunday.

But FIFA is stiffing the champions anyway, awarding them 77 per cent less prize money than the worst teams at the men's tournament.

The U.S. team is set to take home US$2 million from FIFA after winning at Vancouver's BC Place Stadium. That's double the amount that Japan took when it won the Women's World Cup in 2011, BBC News reported.

But it's also $33 million less (that's 94 per cent) than Germany received for winning last year's men's World Cup. And it's $6 million less than the worst teams received at that tournament, a Reuters report shows.

Teams participating in World Cup tournaments are entitled to prize money just for qualifying, and the amount has steadily risen in recent years — though much more so for the men's squads.

While Germany pocketed $35 million in Brazil, runner-up Argentina took home $25 million, third-place Netherlands received $22 million and the fourth-place host team was given $20 million.

National men's teams that make it to the quarter-finals receive $14 million each. Squads that don't advance beyond the round of 16 are awarded $9 million; and those kicked out of the tournament in the first round collect $8 million.

U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe told The Guardian that more attention needs to be paid to how much cash the Women's World Cup can draw.

This year, the tournament drew more spectators than it ever has in its history, with the 1.25 million (and counting) fans in attendance beating a previous record of 1,194,221 that was set in 1999, said Sportsnet.

TV viewership was also up from the last Women's World Cup in 2011, as older viewers tuned into games alongside their kids, reported The Associated Press.

Viewership among women aged 25 to 54 was up by 91 per cent from the last tournament, and it also grew by 21 per cent among men in that segment.

The World Cup final, meanwhile, was the most watched soccer game in U.S. television history, men or women, after drawing 25.4 million viewers.

"I think the people with the money just need to realize there is money to be made in our game and I think they're seeing that now," Rapinoe said.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke initially dismissed comparisons between the prize money at the men's and women's tournaments as "nonsense" at a news conference in December. But he later said that the men's tournament brings in more revenue (about $4.5 billion), and pays for all the world competitions that it organizes.

"We played the [20th] Men's World Cup in 2014, when we are playing the seventh women's world cup, so things can grow step by step," Valcke said. "I mean, we have still another [13] World Cups before potentially women should receive the same amount as men."

But money isn't the only area in which FIFA is treating women's teams differently from men's squads.

The Women's World Cup was also played on artificial turf, as opposed to grass, prompting a human rights complaint and criticisms from participants including U.S. player Abby Wambach, who said she would have scored more goals if it weren't for the surface.

The rights complaint, which was dropped in January, said the artificial surface was dangerous to play on, and that neither FIFA nor the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) would have expected a Men's World Cup to be played on turf.

Wambach said in a statement at the time she was "hopeful that the players' willingness to contest the unequal playing fields ... marks the start of even greater activism to ensure fair treatment when it comes to women's sports."

The topic of artificial turf was yet another that Valcke was unwilling to broach at the December news conference. He later blasted the idea that the playing surface was an example of discrimination.

"If anyone is saying that the use of the artificial pitch is an issue of discrimination, it's nonsense, it's completely crazy to say that," he said. "We are every day trying to develop women’s football around the world."

Sportsnet columnist Donnovan Bennett said that the turf was "not an equal rights issue," and that it wasn't "having an adverse effect on play."

But women's players aren't the only ones who have expressed concern about playing on the surface

Retired soccer star Thierry Henry outright refused to play on turf when he was a member of the New York Red Bulls from 2010 to 2014.

It meant that he wouldn't play games in Vancouver, Portland, Seattle or New England. Henry had said the turf could worsen an Achilles injury.

Soccer, of course, isn't the only sport in which men receive more prize money than women do.

A BBC investigation has found that 30 per cent of sports award more cash to men than women, with the biggest differences found in soccer, golf, cricket, snooker, darts and squash.

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