Mia Hamm speaks out about equal pay in football
American soccer icon Mia Hamm has fuelled the debate over gender discrimination in US sport by slamming the culture that 'didn't see women were valuable'.
Hamm, arguably America's most famous female footballer, spoke in light of the USA women's team's gender discrimination lawsuit following ther World Cup success. She fought a similar cause back in 2020, again after World Cup glory.
She told CNBC: “What’s happening right now is not just happening in soccer but across the country. You invest where you see value
"The fact that people didn’t see women as valuable is a mistake and also a detriment to society.”
Hamm and other players threatened not to compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympics if their demands for pay were not met. As a result the players were given updated five-year contracts that made sure they were paid $2,000 per appearance.
“We were saying, ‘Hey, it’s worth it for us not to go the Olympics and if you want to go find 20 other players, go ahead’.
“Similar to the Women’s National Team now, [in 2000] we had the numbers. We had just won a World Cup and they couldn’t say people won’t come watch us play.”
Nearly 20 years later the national team claim the pay gap has widened. In their lawsuit, the American team propose that if both the male and female teams won all non-tournament games that they have to play, as it is written in their contract, the women would be paid 38% of the men's remuneration.
Hamm made 276 appearances with the national team. During her career, in addition to winning the four major championships, the US women finished third in the 1995 and 2003 World Cup tournaments and took a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics.
Hamm became the poster girl with her No 9 shirt becoming a top seller and her status rivalling that of many male athletes, both during her career and following her retirement.