For those of you that think it doesn't pay to be a gold medal Olympian, think again. For the U.S. Women's soccer team, who will be playing for gold against Japan Thursday, the difference between first place and second could mean millions.
According to U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati, if the women's tea wins gold, they will split a $1.5 million bonus, which is said to be far more than if they grab silver. How much more, though, hasn't been stated. In addition to the money earned from the bonus, the ladies would also earn nice paychecks from playing a national tour that could be upwards to ten games or more. If they lose on Thursday, that tour drops to around three games.
"There's a lot of money at stake for the players," Gulati said.
Speaking on Wednesday, Gulati touched on the the misfortune of there being no top-tier women's soccer league in the United States and that any of the women may be forced to go overseas to play.
"Look, it's pretty simple," Gulati said when talking about the past two failed attempts to launch a professional women's soccer league. "An economic model of the sort we've had the last two rounds hasn't worked."
"There aren't many leagues around the world that are paying a lot of money, and especially in a situation like this, where this tournament has gone well and the players are in the limelight, their opportunities off the field are much greater in the United States than they are anywhere else in the world," Gulati said. "If we can make it sensible soccer-wise, and have a league that plays at a high enough level, it's in their interest, it's in our interest in terms of developing the game. So in an ideal world, we want them in the U.S."
The U.S. women advanced to Thursday's final by staging a dramatic come from behind win over Canada behind some controversy and a ton of heart. Their matchup with Japan is a rematch of last summer's World Cup Final where the U.S. lost on penalty kicks.
Olympic Medal Count (as of Tuesday Morning):
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
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