USA Women’s Soccer Equality for More Than Just 23 Players

With the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in full swing, the ongoing calls for gender equality in the game of soccer are taking center stage once more. The U.S. women’s national team, backed by their number one world ranking in women’s soccer, is at the forefront of equality discussions with their fight for equal pay alongside the U.S. men’s national team. They also happen to represent a nation which has lately been on the forefront in the battle for equality in all arenas.  In the USA soccer ecosystem, most people agree that providing merit-based compensation and fair opportunity to all genders in USA soccer is the right thing to do, but the real question is how to implement this culture and structure of equality. USA soccer much search for a solution that benefits women and girls all throughout the ecosystem, not just a select few. The market mechanism of promotion and relegation is the best place to start as it creates the most real, tangible opportunity for players, coaches, employees and fans in the women’s soccer ecosystem.

The USA women’s national team seems to be on track to gain victory in its fight for equal compensation from the U.S. Soccer Federation, but what comes next if and when the the U.S. women’s national team wins its fight for equal compensation? The resulting income gain for the 23 members of the national team would be great, but what about the millions of other women and girls in the USA soccer ecosystem? Nothing really changes for them besides being able to revel at a symbolic victory at the pinnacle of the women’s soccer ecosystem. If USA really wants to be about equality for women’s soccer, why not think of structures and mechanisms which could provide real, tangible opportunities and pathways for women and girls in the game? The national team does quite well, but what about the almost non-existent U.S. women’s pro soccer landscape? The MLS-backed NWSL is barely scratching and surviving. As recent as a few years ago, the league was fielding unpaid players. The nation that hosts the number one women’s national team in the world can barely afford to pay its first-division women’s club players? How ridiculous is that!

Open the USA soccer ecosystem so that all people and clubs can compete. Create REAL opportunity for female ownership. The below quote from this piece by Mehdi Manseur brilliantly outlines how an open USA soccer market with promotion and relegation is just what is needed to sustain and grow USA women’s soccer at all levels:

Women’s Pro Sports An open sports system would also have profound effects on women’s professional sports in America, which has failed to develop in comparison with our European counterparts. Many of America’s professional female athletes seek employment abroad because of the lack of opportunities within the major team sports in America. All notable attempts to start female sports leagues in the United States have been in the form of closed systems with similar obstacles placed upon new entrants to protect the already established entities and prevent open competition from any outside groups.

As such, there is no incentive for individuals or groups to invest in new female teams unless they are provided assurances they will be allowed to enter the closed system or unless they intend to invest sufficiently to establish an entire league themselves. Since the already established entities limit and control competition to protect their investments and since seeking out sufficient investment to form an entire league is an incredibly high burden, the current dynamic works to dissuade new investment into female sports and limits the potential growth of the overall industry in America.

An open system of female sports would provide a stable and reliable structure for which new entities can enter the market and compete against already established entities upon meeting certain objective standards and criteria. Doing so would promote new investment into female sports since new teams would never need permission from established entities to enter the marketplace and never need to seek out sufficient capital to form an entire league.

Rather than permit the development of women’s pro sports to be constrained by closed systems that serve only the interests of a select few, it would be supported by a stable overall structure that allows it to grow organically with the free market determining where in America teams could thrive.

Watch:


Have your say in the comments below!

Hit the donate button below and share this content out on social media to help further the cause of equality and opportunity in USA soccer!


W3Schools

U.S. Soccer Follows Typical Government-Authorized Monopoly Script

The MLS monopoly that sits atop USA soccer is not necessarily founded and preserved by a lack of oversight from governing authorities – namely, the U.S. Soccer governing federation (USSF). The thinking here is that the federation either did not have the capacity, or was unwilling to prevent MLS capture of the USA soccer marketplace. This line of reasoning is a bit off base. It is important to understand this key truth when examining MLS’s position in the USA soccer ecosystem: the MLS monopoly over USA soccer is knowingly enabled and authorized by the U.S. Soccer Federation. USA soccer fans must realize that blame for USA soccer closed-system ineptitude rests 100% on the U.S. soccer federation. The 100% authority that USSF holds over USA soccer must also include the corresponding 100% responsibility.

The battle to free American soccer from harmful MLS control starts and ends with appeals toward USA soccer’s governing federation. The two possible scenarios are to reform the existing U.S. Soccer Federation from within through fan or FIFA pressure, or set up a replacement USA soccer federation and acquire official recognition from FIFA. The latter scenario seems to be the best bet for success at this point. The foresight of MLS in a wild-west USA soccer era was shrewd, and USSF did fall asleep at metaphorical wheel of governance, but the important fact is that the U.S. soccer federation has been captured through either payoff or infiltration, and U.S. soccer leadership is fully aware of this. The MLS tail is waging the USSF dog, so to speak, and USA soccer fans must now intervene to restore authority back to all USA soccer constituents instead of a select few. 

This USA soccer market-capture dilemma follows the same pattern we see with truly harmful monopolies in other industries. The practice of regulatory capture, where one firm uses government as a puppet to protect itself from competition, rings familiar. Liberty and the free market are not bad at their essence. Problems arise in the free market when a government oversteps its bounds thanks to corruption or ineptitude. Do you blame private healthcare firms for simply taking advantage of the lobbying and bribery opportunities the U.S. government affords them? Of course not – the enabling governing officials are at fault. The solution for problems in the free market is not slapping on more regulation and restriction, but rather granting more freedom and autonomy. A government’s job is to be a watchdog and enforcer of fair market opportunity for its constituents, not to determine the winners and losers within the market. 

We must understand USA soccer governance duties as well as MLS’s relationship to the U.S. Soccer Federation. Blame in this case must fall on USSF since it has ultimate authority to decide on the matter. Blaming a free USA soccer market for MLS’s capture of the USA soccer ecosystem is the same as blaming USA healthcare woes on a free market. Both are sourced from crony capitalism brought about by expanded government, not true capitalism. The U.S. Soccer Federation has decided that the MLS company is the winner and everyone else is the loser in the American soccer market competition. This is clearly a case of a soccer governing body fundamentally failing in its FIFA-mandated duty.

USA soccer players, fans, and clubs must understand that priority number one in the quest for USA soccer progress is appealing for change at the policy level of the ecosystem. It is not very productive to expend time and resources building in the USA grassroots when the MLS monopoly has power to hold a glass ceiling above and topple the build work of any club it sees as a threat. It is still commendable to build in the grassroots, but if you can only pick one task between building in the grassroots and speaking up for policy change, speaking up is the best choice. Power lies in the hands of USA soccer constituents. Silent hope is just the same as complying with failing and toxic USA soccer closed-system policy. The key to reform is building enough public pressure so that either USSF, FIFA, or the U.S. government is forced to act.

Watch:


Have your say in the comments below!

Hit the donate button below and share this content out on social media to help further the cause of equality and opportunity in USA soccer!


W3Schools