USWNT Files Lawsuit on International Women’s Day
The U.S. Women’s National Team has filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The news came on International Women’s Day, which endorses the support and empowerment of women across the globe – not just women athletes.
In the complaint, the players claim that U.S. Soccer has “continually rejected USWNT players’ requests for pay equal to the pay afforded to USMNT players” and continued to implement a pay scale that favors the men’s team. The lawsuit also claims that during the period relevant to this case, the women’s team earned more in profit and revenue.
Women’s Soccer News: On International Women’s Day and with the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in sight, 28 U.S. Women’s National Team players in the current player pool filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.
The lawsuit was filed last Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleging female players earn less than U.S. Men’s National Team players despite having the same job responsibilities and being more successful on record.
Members of the USWNT argue that they won more matches, earned more championships and received higher television audiences than their male counterparts. The USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia. In addition, the USMNT hasn’t advanced past the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals since a third-place finish during the inaugural tournament in 1930.
USWNTPA’s statement on the Lloyd Morgan et. al v. USSF filing ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/wt7l8IYAAG
— USWNTPA (@USWNTPlayers) March 8, 2019
In the lawsuit, players are seeking back pay and damages for players that have represented the USWNT since February 4, 2015.
The lawsuit reflects similar allegations to a March 2016 complaint by five USWNT players to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The U.S. women’s soccer representatives notified the EEOC that it planned to file a lawsuit in federal court, and on February 11th it received permission to do so.
Despite advancing negotiations in a 2017 collective-bargaining agreement with the federation, the U.S. women declared that the deal was not adequate. At that time, the team opted to compromise rather than disrupt the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season.
Among a number of specific examples listed in the lawsuit, the female players claim that USWNT players were given $15,000 apiece for making the 2015 World Cup roster, while men were given $55,000 apiece the previous year. The players also claim that the USMNT earned $5.375 million in bonuses for its performance in the 2014 World Cup — a loss in the Round of 16 — while the women earned $1.725 million for winning the 2015 tournament.
In the fiscal year that ended in March 2016, the federation budgeted a combined net loss for the national teams of $429,929, according to the lawsuit. Because of the success of the USWNT, the federation revised its projections to include a $17.7 million profit, the lawsuit alleges. In further detail, the filing noted that despite the USWNT generating nearly $20 million more revenue in 2015 than the USMNT, the women are paid about a quarter of what the men earn.
U.S. Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro said, in a recent interview, that the situation with the women’s team had improved since the collective-bargaining agreement deal was made.
“I’m not saying it’s perfect and equal, but it doesn’t have that same biting, very negative slant to it,” said Cordeiro. “Because the little things we can do, we did immediately. Our women travel the same class of air, the same class of hotels. There are charters available to them when they need them.”
USWNT members ultimately argue that they receive unequal treatment in terms of travel accommodations and playing conditions. They are required to play on artificial turf more frequently than the men’s team and receive charter flights to away matches less frequently.
The USWNT have won three FIFA Women’s World Cups and four Olympic gold medals, more than any women’s team in history. Their victory in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final versus Japan was the most-watched soccer game of all time in the U.S., with more than 25 million viewers.
“Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that,” said Alex Morgan, veteran U.S. forward. “We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility.”
“I don’t know if there was a tipping point, but the feeling was that this was the next best step for us to put us in the best possible position to continue to fight for what we believe is right and what the law recognizes,” said Megan Rapinoe. “And to try to achieve equality under the law, equal working conditions, equal working pay. It goes far beyond equal pay into the working conditions as well.”
Former USWNT goalkeeper Hope Solo expressed support for her former teammates and applauded their efforts to stand up for equal pay.
“I’ve always hoped my former teammates would follow suit and join me in the battle in Federal Court against the United States Soccer Federation,” said Solo. “It was clear that U.S. Soccer was never going to acquiesce or negotiate to provide us equal pay or agree to treat us fairly. The filing today by the entire United States Women’s National Team demonstrates that they no longer fear the Federation by forcefully and publicly acknowledging US Soccer’s violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII.”
The USWNT is paving the way for future female soccer players – not just those that suit up in the stars and stripes. The courage and strength that it takes to stand up for what you believe in and utilize your platform to empower others should be acknowledged during this action.
Although on paper the lawsuit directly impacts the USWNT, the view of mere pay compensation is short-sighted as this action sets a precedent for future expectations for women athletes.
USWNT players acknowledge their responsibility as role models for young girls and are not dismissing their influence on the future of women’s soccer.
“We believe it is our duty to be the role models that we’ve set out to be and fight to what we know we legally deserve,” forward Christen Press told The Associated Press. “And hopefully in that way it inspires women everywhere.”
The FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in France on June 7th. The USWNT recorded a draw versus England and Japan as well as a win against Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup. Despite a second place finish, the U.S. is still considered a world cup favorite with an undefeated record in 2018 and currently holding the No. 1 world ranking.
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) March 8, 2019
An inspiring story for #InternationalWomensDay: “I stood my ground and trained harder until I broke into the Zimbabwe Women’s National Soccer Team and won the respect of my community.” @grassrootsoccer‘s Amelia Chidofya is forging a gender-balanced future. https://t.co/4juBWMGSgm
— Christen Press (@ChristenPress) March 8, 2019
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This is my beautiful Mother who, like so many women, has worked tirelessly for her entire life to provide for her family, for herself, and for anyone who needed her. My mother gave me the strength to be who I am today. She taught me how to stand up for what was right, fight for myself, and to fight for others who needed a helping hand. She has worked her whole life so that I could live better, dream bigger, fight harder, and change the world. Mom, there are not words to describe your impact on me, I only hope that I have made you proud, I promise to continue in your footsteps of ensuring those to come after me have it better than I did. I love you. Happy International Women’s Day.