There's just as much going on off the World Cup field as there is on it.
The FIFA Women's World Cup starts on Friday in Paris, with the home team facing off against South Korea at 3 p.m. ET. Team USA, meanwhile, doesn't have its first match until Tuesday, but following their fight for fair pay can keep fans busy in the meantime.
No matter whose World Cup projections you look at, the U.S. women tend to come out on top. They're 2015's defending champions, they're currently first in FIFA's world rankings, and they have a chart-topping 7-4 odds to take home this year's title. Those accolades come as no surprise seeing as America has top-tier, longtime players including Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, and Megan Rapinoe leading the way. Still, FiveThirtyEight's rankings do suggest France has a slightly higher chance of winning the cup, and Germany and England could sneak in a surprise win as well.
Behind the scenes, the American women are also fighting an absurdly obvious pay gap. Their World Cup-winning coach made less than a tenth of what the men's team coach did in 2017, despite the men's coach being fired the year before. That's one of the many reasons why players sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination in March. And it seems the gap extends around the globe, because whichever team wins this year's world cup will only bring home $4 million — just a fraction of the $38 million France's men's team received when they claimed the World Cup last year. Kathryn Krawczyk