The U.S. Women Won, the Men Lost, and the Equal Pay Fight Tied Them Together Again


Deals for products as diverse as T-shirts and socks, bobbleheads and toys now bring in revenue in categories where it did not previously exist. Jerseys customized with a player’s name can mean thousands of dollars in extra income alone; the entire pot can produce six figures in licensing income for a star like Rapinoe or striker Alex Morgan.

At the same time, several players have created their own side businesses to promote their brands, and a new company, REP Worldwide, was formed with the players union’s counterparts from the N.F.L. and the W.N.B.A. to find new deals. REP’s president, Steve Scebelo, estimated before the World Cup that a championship would bring the potential for at least $1 million in new licensing revenue — another five-figure income boost for each player — over the next year.

“We really believe in the value of this team,” said Becca Roux, the executive director of the women’s national team players association. “This is an opportunity to take something into a whole different echelon commercially.”

Scott Langerman, the chief executive of ACE Media, which works with the women’s team on content development and other projects, said Monday that the soccer stars and other professional athletes have for years allowed others to define opportunities for them. Victory, he said, has given the women’s team all the leverage.

“The USWNT has a unique opportunity to rebalance that system,” he said, using the internet shorthand for the team, “and to have an important voice in who they are and what they do, especially where it comes to off-field opportunities.”

Until then, the players plan to continue to make their case for more — more money, more investment, more respect — directly. Rapinoe, the free-speaking, smile-flashing, goal-scoring star, may get the first chance.

Throughout the Americans’ run in France, she had pummeled soccer’s leaders for their lack of support for the women’s game. “Disappointing” was how she labeled it. “Ridiculous.” So when she stepped onto the podium to be honored after Sunday’s victory, and FIFA’s president, Gianni Infantino, extended his hand and suggested they have “a conversation,” she was ready.



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