Minnesota state Rep. Pat Garofalo’s Twitter profile says he loves “spontaneous travel,” playing Monopoly, and Taco John’s. The Farmington Republican also says he hates “bad breath, InfoWars, and dumb laziness.”
This is the platform on which he launched his latest pronouncement: that the United States women’s soccer team, which just took home its fourth World Cup, is not underpaid compared to men’s soccer teams.
Are there issues with women facing unequal pay for equal work? Yes,” he tweeted. “Is the World Cup one of those examples? Absolutely not.”
He explained that the discrepancy between men’s and women’s soccer is based on revenue, not any kind of unfairness. The men’s team brings in more World Cup money than the women’s, which justifies why France's men's team took home $38 million after winning the World Cup, but the American women's team got just $4 million for their victory.
He doubled down by retweeting a meme directed at the “feminists” who think something rotten is going on here. “It’s not sexism,” it says. “It’s math.”
Again, there are authentic examples of wage discrepancy that we should work to fix. The Women’s World Cup is NOT one of them. https://t.co/gU6dOfLGvj— Representative Pat Garofalo (@PatGarofalo) July 8, 2019
It’s true: Men bring in more revenue during the World Cup than women. Not necessarily American men, mind you. In fact, the closest they’ve come to winning the World Cup is coming in third place in 1930. But in any case, that’s just the World Cup, and the relative revenue for national soccer teams overall is actually pretty complicated.
For example, the Wall Street Journal found that between 2016 and 2018, U.S. women’s games made a little bit more than the men’s games ($50.8 million vs. $49.9 million.) Plus, Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker said the women’s home jersey has become the “No. 1 soccer jersey, men’s or women’s, ever sold on Nike.com in one season.”
With shouts of “equal pay” echoing from the stands, fans are increasingly coming to value the skill and showmanship women are bringing to the table – as are the players themselves.
“I think we’re done with, 'Are we worth it? Should we have equal pay? Is the market the same? Yada yada,'” American midfielder Megan Rapinoe told the New York Times. “We – all players, every player at this World Cup – put on the most incredible show that you could ever ask for. We can’t do anything more, to impress more, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better, to do anything. It’s time to move that conversation forward to the next step.”
Garofalo sent a statement saying he does believe the women's team has "a legitimate complaint" about "non-World Cup revenue."
"But that has more to do with how bad the men's team sucks instead of discrimination," he says. "Men's sports tend to be more popular and profitable than the same sport played by women. In this case the World Cup is no different."
He says reactions to the comment have been typically "extreme" for Twitter -- either people are saying "Pat Garofalo is awesome because he agrees with me!" or "Pat Garofalo is the worst human being ever and is a white, mysogynist pig!"
Nonetheless: "Most people understand that the lower revenues derived from the World Cup isn't because of discrimination," he said.
This is not the first seemingly random social media hill he's chosen to die on. It's not even the first time he’s used his Twitter account to wax philosophical about the relative merits of professional athletes. In 2014, he tweeted that “70 percent of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow” and that “nobody would notice a difference w/ possible exception of increase in streetcrime.”
When others pointed out that some 80 percent of NBA players are black, and that his tweet seemed pretty racist, he offered his “sincere apologies.”