Back to obscurity for all but a few after World Cup

Mon Jul 6, 2015 6:23pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - With the Women's World Cup party over it was back to reality for many of the players who headed home on Monday to resume 9-to-5 jobs, school studies and raising families.

Women's soccer basked in the spotlight during the month-long tournament, delivering an entertaining spectacle that produced record-smashing television ratings and an eye-popping total attendance of 1.35 million after 52 matches.

But only a lucky few from the record 24 teams that qualified for the tournament, which the United States won on Sunday with a 5-2 win over Japan, will return home to earn a living as a professional soccer player.

Players in the U.S.-based National Women's Soccer League earn yearly wages of between $6,842 and $37,800, which pales in comparison to Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo ($79.6 million) and Barcelona' Lionel Messi ($73.8 million), who both rank in the top five on Forbes' 2015 highest-paid athletes list.

The U.S. team will get $2 million for their World Cup win, well below the $35 million Germany received for winning the men's World Cup last year.

Some of the American World Cup winners, however, will cash in on their success through endorsement deals, most notably Carli Lloyd after she fired a sensational hat-trick within the first 16 minutes of the final.

But for the vast majority of the 552 players who competed in the Women's World Cup, soccer is merely part-time job squeezed in around jobs and families.

The Women's World Cup and the exposure it received allowed the sport to take another step forward but there is a still a large mountain to climb before the women's game can come close to matching the men in popularity.   Continued...

United States midfielder Carli Lloyd (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Japan during the first half of the final of the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup  in Vancouver July 5, 2015.   Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports