Frank de Boer, the Dutch manager of the Major League Soccer team Atlanta United, doesn’t seem to share their opinion, however.
De Boer, who enjoyed a successful career as a player on teams like Ajax and Barcelona before becoming a manager, slammed the idea of equal pay in soccer as “ridiculous,” claiming that female athletes should be paid based on the revenue they bring in.
“It’s the same like tennis. If there are watching, for the World Cup final, 500 million people or something like that, and 100 million for a women’s final, that’s a difference. So it’s not the same,” he told The Guardian. “And of course they have to be paid what they deserve to [earn] and not less, just what they really deserve. If it’s just as popular as the men, they will get it, because the income and the advertising will go into that. But it’s not like that, so why do they have to earn the same? I think it’s ridiculous. I don’t understand that.”
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De Boer, 49, also shared his different stance on equal pay outside of soccer, saying that it should apply in regular work settings.
“I think it started because a woman [was] getting underpaid, especially at [managerial] positions. They have to earn the same as a man,” he said. “I think if you have a manager position for a bank or something, you have to earn the same what the men did because it’s not physically, just only here [points to head], so why do you have to earn less, because you’re doing the same job as a man? I think that’s also dropped a little bit into the sports world, like tennis and soccer. But I think that’s still different.”
The manager soon attempted to clarify his comments, sharing a statement through the team.
“I’d like to clarify my comments in yesterday’s Guardian story. When taken in its full context, my position is that I wholly respect and support the women’s game and am encouraged and excited by its growth both internationally and here in the U.S.,” he said in the statement, published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I do believe when it comes to the economics of the game, as popularity keeps increasing it will lead to increased revenue and higher salaries in the women’s game, which is fantastic and what we all want to see. I am proud to be a part of a club that embraces equality, and I apologize for any distraction this has become for our team and organization.”
The Royal Dutch Football Association in de Boer’s native Netherlands committed to equal pay for the players on the men’s and women’s national teams this year, and will give the women annual raises until 2023 to even things out, the Guardian reported.
The U.S. Women’s National Team, who won a World Cup title in June, have fueled the equal pay discussion, and in March, sued the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming they were discriminated against based on gender, according to the New York Times.
De Boer’s argument about income and revenue factored into the lawsuit, with the women arguing that “during the period relevant to this case, the WNT earned more in profit and/or revenue than the MNT.”
In a court filing in May, the USSF responded and denied the women’s claims, saying that pay is “based on differences in aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex.”
According to the Washington Post, women’s games pulled in about $900,000 more in revenue than men’s games from 2016-18, and $1.9 million in the year after the women won the World Cup in 2015.
USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe has been vocal in her push for equal pay, saying at a press conference in June she felt it was time for the conversation to “move to the next step.”
“Let’s get to the point of what’s next, how do we support women’s federation and women’s programs around the world?” she said. “What can FIFA do to do that, what can we do to support the leagues around the world?”