U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Suing U.S. Soccer Over Gender Discrimination

Tyra Hilliard
Staff Writer

PC: Rachel C. King

Within the lawsuit filed by the United States women’s soccer team against the U.S. Soccer Federation, it is argued that U.S. Soccer, “has a policy and practice of discriminating” against the women on the national team based on gender, by paying them less than members of the same stature on the men’s team.

The majority of the women’s teams are named as plaintiffs. Among them are Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe. The lawsuit is class action and seeks to represent former players of the team who may have been denied equal pay for equal work.

The issue of unequal pay has been very prominent issue throughout the country in recent years, and the women’s team has no plans on easing the pressure they placed on U.S. Soccer. In 2017, a new collective bargaining agreement with the federation.

In 2016, in addition to Becky Sauerbrunn, Morgan, Lloyd and Rapinoe filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of themselves and other players that are sharing the same experience. However, nothing was done. As of February 2019, the commission issued letters giving them the right to sue.

“Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that,” said Morgan. “We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility. As players, we deserved to be paid equally for our work, regardless of our gender.”

U.S. Soccer declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The timing of the lawsuit came at a memorable time. The filing date fell on International Women’s Day, less than three months away from the start Women’s World Cup that will be starting in France this year. The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, ranked number 1 in the world, hopes to continue to defend the World Cup they’ve won four years ago.

By record, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) has unfailingly been more victorious than the men’s team. They have won the World Cup three times and are four-time champions of the Olympics. The men’s team has never claimed either title, and were ineligible for the 2018 World Cup. Despite these accomplishments, the women are still paid less than the men.

The lawsuit gives insight to the pay gap by saying “Women’s players paid less for each ‘friendly’ match, they’re paid less for making the team’s World Cup roster, and they’re paid much less for their performance at the World Cup.” This was followed by, “A comparison of the WNT and MNT pay shows that if each team played 20 friendlies in a year and each team won all twenty friendlies—female WNT players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while similarly situated male MNT players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game against the various levels of competition they would face.” Summing up that a top-tier women’s player would earn just 38 percent of the compensation of a top-tier player on the men’s team.

The New York Times notes that a comparison between the two genders is not that easy.

“Each team has its own collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer, and among the major differences are pay structure: the men receive higher bonuses when they play for the United States, but are paid only when they make the team, while the women receive guaranteed salaries supplemented by smaller match bonuses,” wrote Andrew Das.

Another point in the lawsuit is that for their success in winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the U.S. women were paid less than a third of what the U.S. men were paid for losing in the Round of 16. Although the pools of bonus money are meted out to countries by FIFA, it’s up to U.S. Soccer to decide how the money is divvied up.

The union representing the U.S. National Men’s Team, whose collective bargaining agreement expired in 2018, showed their support of the USWNT’s fight to be paid equally.

“Specifically, we are committed to the concept of a revenue-sharing model to address the US Soccer Federation’s ‘market realities’ and find a way towards fair compensation,” said the union in a statement. “An equal division of revenue attributable to the MNT and WNT programs is our primary pursuit as we engage with the US Soccer Federation in collective bargaining.”

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