Twenty-eight members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team have filed a gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer, alleging unequal pay and poor working conditions.
Filed Friday in United States District Court in Los Angeles, the lawsuit outlines several areas in which members of U.S. Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) feel that they have been treated unfairly by the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). Unequal pay is one aspect of the suit, but the legal complaint also alleges that the USWNT typically is given inferior working conditions–including facilities, transportation methods, among other areas–in comparison to their counterparts on the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Since filing the lawsuit, which comes just months before the 2019 women’s World Cup is to begin, several USWNT members have spoken about the case. Stars such as Megan Rapinoe have emphasized that the lawsuit is not just about pay, but that the general resources U.S. Soccer devotes to women’s soccer is disproportionately lower than it what provides for men. More from ABC News:
The USSF, the lawsuit claims, “has paid only lip service to gender equality and continues to practice gender-based discrimination against its champion female employees on the WNT in comparison to its less successful male employees on the MNT.”
The suit says that female players earned $15,000 for “being asked to try out for the World Cup team and making the team roster” in 2013 through 2016. On the other hand, men earned $55,000 each for making the World Cup team in 2014.
To critics who argue the U.S. men’s team brings in more revenue and so should be compensated more, Rapinoe and [Alex] Morgan said those claims are “arbitrary.”
“Obviously [pay equity] is the hot button issue but in order to have I think a fair and a balanced conversation around compensation, we need to look at everything,” Rapinoe said. “We need to look at the way the youth teams are funded. We need to look at the way our staff — our coaching staff, our medical staff — is funded. We need to look at promotion and branding and marketing and sponsorship, all of that.”
There has been debate over the years concerning U.S. Soccer’s treatment of USWNT, particularly in light of the success that club has had in comparison to the men’s team (U.S. Women’s Soccer won the 2015 World Cup, whereas the men’s side failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup). This is also not the first time in recent years that some of these issues have been raised, as a wage discrimination complaint was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016 and the agency granted players the right to sue earlier this year.
U.S. Soccer, for its part, is pointing to measures it has implemented to help USWNT. A collective bargaining agreement between USWNT and U.S. Soccer struck in 2017 was aimed at addressing many of those issues, according to a statement U.S. Soccer that was cited in the ABC News story:
“U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Women’s National Team reached a collective bargaining agreement two years ago. U.S. Soccer has faithfully and consistently worked with the U.S. Women’s National Team players and staff to provide the team everything it needs to perform at the highest levels possible and compete to win world championships,” the statement read. “The substantial and unwavering commitment by U.S. Soccer to those very ideals is evident in our proactive approach to drive the women’s game forward, which includes the creation of two elite women’s international tournaments to increase competition opportunities, adding additional technical and high-performance staff focused only on the USWNT, and enhancing our marketing campaigns. Our continued support and efforts toward enriching the women’s game is every bit as certain today as it will be in the future.”
Image courtesy U.S. Soccer.