The United States Women’s National Team is, objectively, a better program than their male counterparts. Despite this, the latter get paid way more, and as a result, the women’s squad has fought for equal pay for years. Things went to another level on Friday morning, when it was revealed that the defending Women’s World Cup champions have turned to the legal system.
According to the New York Times, 28 members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation, claiming the governing body for soccer in the country has breached the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by participating in gender-based discrimination, stemming from the fact that they are not compensated to the same extent as their male counterparts.
“Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts,” the lawsuit says. “This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players – with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions.”
Beyond unequal pay, the USWNT accuses the USSF of further discrimination on the basis of gender, namely “denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT.”
There’s a whole lot in the lawsuit, and we recommend taking a few minutes to read all 25 pages, with the financial information beginning on page 11 and specifics occurring on page 12. The plaintiffs include some of the best women’s soccer players on earth, including Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Julie Ertz, and Megan Rapinoe, who has spoke to us in the past about the fight for equal pay.
The lawsuit comes immediately after this year’s SheBelieves Cup and three months before the start of the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, and looks to represent women who suited up for the national team from Feb. 4, 2015 on. According to the suit, “during the period relevant to this case, the WNT earned more in profit and/or revenue than the MNT” and “the net profit for the WNT outstripped net profit for the MNT because the female players on the WNT were more successful in competition than the male players on the MNT – while being paid substantially less.”
The USSF made no secret about having cash on hand in the past — one week after the men’s national team fell on its face against Trinidad & Tobago to miss the World Cup, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated brought word of a nearly $140 million surplus for the Federation. And while Andrew Das of the New York Times pointed out that the way the men’s and women’s teams pay structures are different — the former receive larger match bonuses but have to make the team, the latter get smaller bonuses and get guaranteed salaries — the USMNT players’ union has their USWNT’s backs.
According to NPR, U.S. Soccer declined to comment about the lawsuit.