In reality, relative to the men’s World Cup, it was actually the women’s teams that were being paid a much larger share of what they brought in. While these articles noted that the U.S. women’s team brings in more money than the men’s team, they all managed to ignore the more-relevant disparity in revenue: The men’s tournament brought in over $6 billion in revenue in 2018, while the women’s tournament is estimated to only have brought in $131 million in 2019. The prize pools are taken from those revenue totals. In other words, the women’s prize pool was approximately 23 percent of their total revenue, while the men’s prize pool consisted of approximately 7 percent of revenue.
What’s truly relevant is the fact that the women’s league pays out 23% of its total revenue into the prize pool. The men’s league, by comparison, puts just 7% of its revenue into the prize money. The reason for this is that the men’s league attracts a vastly larger global audience, hence bringing in far more ad revenue and endorsement deals. If you started paying the women’s league teams the same amount as the men’s teams in the interest of “fairness,” the women’s league would soon be bankrupt and there would be no games.
But a string of victories by the American women isn’t going to do much to keep the rest of the world eagerly tuned in. Unless and until you can figure out a way to drive up revenue in the women’s league, you’re not going to solve the “gender pay gap” in professional soccer.