The Women’s World Cup soccer tournament started on Friday in Paris. Six players from the Utah Royals Football Club will compete in the World Cup.
Three players will compete on the U.S. Women’s National Team — Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn. Three more Utah players will represent their home countries. Rachel Corsie will play for Scotland, Desiree Scott for Canada and Katie Bowen for New Zealand.
The popularity of women’s soccer is on an upward trajectory says Utah Royals FC Assistant Coach Scott Parkinson. He says the sport is experiencing an increase in sponsorship and TV viewership worldwide, and the World Cup will only add to that.
“The more we see it on TV and the more we see it on social media, the more the world will wake up to it and realize how absolutely brilliant women’s footballers are and just as good, if not better, than any male on the planet,” Parkinson said.
The final match of the Women’s World Cup in 2015 was the most watched women’s soccer game in U.S. history. Despite such popularity, this year’s competition takes place at the same time that the women’s national team is suing the United States Soccer Federation for alleged gender discrimination in salaries compared to their counterparts on the U.S. men’s team.
According to the lawsuit, the USSF discriminates against their female athletes by paying them less than members of the men’s team for “substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions.”
The suit also points out that unlike the men’s team, the U.S. women’s are three-time world champions.
This year the U.S. women’s team is ranked best in their league by FIFA, the international football association. The U.S. team also won three championships since the Women’s World Cup started in 1991, more than any other country.
Assistant coach Parkinson declined to comment on the lawsuit between the women’s team and the US Soccer Federation but said a national competition like the World Cup would create a larger platform to address this kind of an issue.
The first game with U.S. Women’s National team is on Tuesday.