Lucy Bronze may not be the Golden Boot winner at this Women’s World Cup, but she is England’s highest-profile player. While her teammate Ellen White is currently tied with USWNT star Megan Rapino with five goals (along with Alex Morgan and Australia’s Sam Kerr), Bronze is the one who manager Phil Neville has called “the best player in the world.”
The 27-year-old Bronze will be tasked with slowing Rapinoe and Morgan in the World Cup semifinals in the Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Tuesday (3 p.m. EST, Fox). Her success could not only fuel England’s first-ever appearance in the final, but justify a substantial pay bump.
According to the Daily Express, Bronze makes €162,000 a year for her pro team Lyon. In addition, she earns €28,000 a year as a member of the national team. In American dollars, this equates to an annual salary of a little under $215,000.
While this may seem like decent pay, the Irish Times pointed out in 2017 that Neymar, one of the best male players in the world, makes more than almost all the female players of France, Germany, England, the US, Sweden, Australia and Mexico combined.
Neymar will earn €36.7 million from PSG for the 2017-18 season purely for his playing contract, without taking into account millions more he receives in commercial deals.
His salary is almost exactly the same as 1,693 female players in France, Germany, England, the US, Sweden, Australia and Mexico combined, according to the Sporting Intelligence annual salary survey.
This pay gap battle is an international one. The United States women’s team is in mediation with USA Soccer over pay inequality, despite the higher levels of on the field and ratings success.
Bronze is in as good of a situation as possible in the women’s game, as her Lyon club is considered the “the best paid women’s sports team in the world” according to the Irish Times.
“They treat the game with huge respect,” Bronze said to the Express. “But with that can come big criticism. I think because of how big the women’s teams at Lyon and PSG are, the expectation on the team and the huge fan base – it leaves the door open for so much media. But I think that’s a good thing.”
Bronze vs. Rapinoe & Morgan
One way to force the English Football Association’s hand regarding pay is with breakthrough success on the global stage. As mentioned earlier, Bronze’s matchup with the American forwards, particularly Rapinoe and Morgan, will go a long way to determine Tuesday’s result.
The Sporting News points out that Bronze has the physicality necessary to disrupt the USWNT’s flow.
She has won 44 duels, the fourth-most among all players, and has 11 interceptions – three fewer than the leader in that category, Noko Matlou. The Lyon right-back has also made 13 tackles, good enough for sixth-most among defenders.
In addition, she is an excellent distributor and can take advantage on the counter-attack. She has 10 touches in the opposition box (among the top-five in the tournament), and has delivered the third-most crosses from open play of any defender (15). She is also tied for second in goal involvements with three.
Against France, Rapinoe used finesse to shake off Wendie Renard for two goals. Expect Bronze to combine physicality with speed to stick with her better. This puts on onus on Alex Morgan to create when Bronze is occupied.