Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer has said he does not believe in equal pay for men and women in football, or sports such as tennis, because women don't bring in as much revenue, according to a report.
"I think for me, it's ridiculous," De Boer told The Guardian in an article published on Monday when asked about the plans for equal pay. "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. 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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The former Ajax manager, who took over at Atlanta in December 2018, issued a statement on Wednesday to clarify his remarks.
"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.," De Boer said in his statement to 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."
Atlanta United president Darren Eales told radio station 92.9 The Game that: "To be crystal clear, our club is now and always will be in supporting equality of strong values and lifting each other up ... We want to grow the game of soccer for all to enjoy, and that's what we stand for. As you guys know, that's the value that [owner] Arthur [Blank] is known for, and it's really the core of his personal and business philosophy."
Eales added that De Boer's word choice was "poor and misguided" and could be attributed to English not being his native language.
De Boer represented the Netherlands at the 1994 and 1998 men's World Cups, and the Dutch women reached the final of the 2019 Women's World Cup before losing, 2-0, to the U.S. women in July.
The Royal Dutch Football Association has already pledged pay equity for its men's and women's teams. The women will receive yearly raises through 2023, when their earnings for national team service will equal that of their male counterparts. The U.S. women, meanwhile, sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, arguing that their pay and working conditions amounted to gender discrimination.
"I think it started because a woman [was] getting underpaid, especially at [managerial] positions," De Boer told the Guardian. "They have to earn the same as a man. 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."
U.S. players, including Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, say they have been consistently paid less than their male counterparts despite performing better. The prize money for the women's World Cup doubled to $30 million this year, but this paled in comparison to the €400m ($448m) available for the men's tournament winners last year. Last week, the U.S. Soccer Federation hired the services of two lobbying firms to counter the U.S. women's claims, a USSF spokesperson confirmed to ESPN FC. In the wake of the U.S. women's team's World Cup victory, legislation was introduced in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives requiring the USSF to pay players on the respective U.S. women's and men's national team equally.
The 2019 Women's World Cup final drew 22% more viewers in the United States than the 2018 men's final, according to data from Nielsen cited by Fox Sports. The U.S. men did not play in the 2018 final, which saw France beat Croatia, 4-2.
According to Nielsen data for U.S. viewership, 14.3 million tuned in to the Women's World Cup final via linear television, compared with 11.4 million for the 2018 men's final. The addition of online streaming put total viewership at 20 million via Fox Sports, making it the most-watched soccer match on U.S. English-language television, men's or women's, since the 2015 Women's World Cup final, which saw 25.4 million viewers.
According to a report in CNN, an additional 1.6 million viewers watched the final match in Spanish on Telemundo in the United States.