World Cup Champ Women’s Soccer Players Accuse U.S. Soccer Federation Of Wage Discrimination

While the women on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team have outshone the men’s team — winning three World Cup championships since 1991 and gold medals in all but one of the Summer Olympics since 1994 — they remain significantly underpaid than their underperforming male counterparts. Today, five members of that championship team filed an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that the U.S. Soccer Federation is unfairly discriminating against female players.
In the complaint — disclosed this morning by the law firm representing players Carli Llloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo — the reigning World Cup champs contend that the USSF pays male players upwards of four times what the women get, even though the female team is a significant generator of revenue for the organization.

“Recently, it has become clear that the Federation has no intention of providing us equal pay for equal work,” said Rapinoe in a statement released today.

Goalie Solo explains that “The numbers speak for themselves… We are the best in the world, have three World Cup Championships, four Olympic Championships, and the USMNT get paid more to just show up, than we get paid to win major championships.”

Their attorney Jeffrey Kessler — who has represented numerous professional sports players associations in their contract negotiations — claims that recent developments in the collective bargaining process between the team and the Federation forced the players’ hands to pursue the EEOC action.

The Women’s National Team Players Association submitted what Kessler terms a “reasonable proposal” in January, with the underlying idea being equal pay for equal work.

For example, players on the men’s team earn $68,750 each if the team makes it to the World Cup. That’s more than double the $30,000 amount paid to players on the women’s team for the same feat.

But the Federation responded to the proposal by suing the players association, seeking to have the court clarify that the current agreement — accepted in 2013 — remains valid and unbreakable through the end of the year.

The players’ EEOC complaint argues that “There are no legitimate non-discriminatory reasons for this gross disparity of wages, nor can it be explained away by any bona fide seniority, merit or incentive system or any other factor other that sex.”

The woman’s team players have also accused the Federation of favoring the men’s team when it comes from everything from playing surfaces to travel.

“We want to play in top-notch, grass-only facilities like the U.S. Men’s National Team,” said Morgan, referencing the potentially dangerous turf surfaces that the team has had to play on. “We want to have equitable and comfortable travel accommodations, and we simply want equal treatment.”

While the women’s team is currently gearing up for the upcoming Olympics in Rio, there is no set timeline for the EEOC to investigate and make a determination on these allegations.

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