Judge dismisses US women’s national soccer team’s claims for equal pay

The US women’s national team’s legal battle for equal pay was shot down this Friday, as a federal judge rejected in most the players claims that they were underpaid and a lot less than the men’s national team. However, the claims for unequal working conditions based on charter flights, cheap hotel accommodations, but most of all medical and training support, will still go to trial.

The  US women’s national team had originally filed a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation (USSF) 14 months ago, with 28 team members listed as plaintiffs. Friday’s ruling was issued due to a motion for “summary judgment” to dismiss the lawsuit by the USSF.

The US Soccer Federation is paying women less than men “for substantially equal work” and by denying them at least equal playing, appropriate training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their events; equal support and development for their games equal to the Men’s National Team.

The judge wrote in his decision that the US Women’s National Team did not prove wage discrimination under the US Equal Pay Act because the women’s team played more games and made more money than the men’s team.

Molly Levinson, an official spokeswoman for the USNWT players, said they will appeal the decision.
“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” Levinson said. “We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender. We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them. We will appeal and press on. Words cannot express our gratitude to all who support us.”

The United States Soccer Federation also released a statement saying: “We are looking forward to working with the Women’s National Team to chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world.”
“US Soccer has long been the world leader for the women’s game on and off the field, and we are committed to continuing that work to ensure our Women’s National Team remains the best in the world and sets the standard for women’s soccer,” the statement read.Players weighed in on social media, including Megan Rapinoe, who tweeted, “We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY.”

Here’s the thing:
U.S. Soccer paid female players $34.1 million in salaries and game bonuses from 2010 to ’18 and paid male players $26.4 million in the same period.
The US Women’s Soccer Team are ” The World Cup champions”
The Men’s team sadly didn’t even qualify for the World Cup
The Women played more games because they went all the way to the top of the world, they played more than double the games the boys did!
FIFA awarded $30 million in prize money for last year’s women’s World Cup tournament. The 2018 men’s tournament had $400 million in prize money. Although FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said he wants to double the prize money for the women’s tournament by 2023, the gap between the genders could grow, with FIFA expected to award $440 million for the men’s tournament in 2022.
FIFA gained in TV rights and sponsors over $310 million, but handed out in prizes just 10% of their final income!!

Then we have this statement:
“The members of the United States National Soccer Team Players Association once again stands with the members of the world champion Women’s National Team in their pursuit of fair compensation for their work as professional soccer players. The USMNT players were not impressed with US Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro’s letter made public in November 2019. The Federation downplays contributions to the sport when it suits them. This is more of the same.”

Back to FIFA:
How about the institutional favoritism toward men. Is there? I can give you a good example and FIFA’s decision to schedule two men’s tournament finals (the Copa America men’s final and the CONCACAF Gold Cup men’s final) on the same day of the Women’s World Cup final.

In the claim we read that the women had lesser accommodations while traveling, basically they stayed in cheap hotels, while the Men’s team were all cuddled up in 5 star villas and the ladies routinely had to play on artificial turf instead of natural grass, which is kinder to the body and is proved to lead to skin cancer.

The USSF’s formal response to the lawsuit claimed that any differences in pay are “based on differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex.” So basically what the USSF is stating here is that the women’s team isn’t bringing in enough money for them to pay them more.

So, let’s look a little more in depth and see if pay inequity spills over to other women’s professional sports and the answer is YES! US Hockey, Basketball and 21 other national spots!

Can the sponsors step in and help?
Adidas announced in 2019 that it would be paying its athletes on the winning World Cup team the same performance bonus payments that would be owed to their male counterparts. (Adidas did not officially disclose the amount of its bonuses.)
Other companies like LUNA Bar have also helped the cause donating $700k to the women’s team. There are plenty of other examples. However, the boost and exposure are nice, brand involvement historically hasn’t leveled the playing field.

The suit has left serious consequences on employers like the U.S. Soccer Federation when they fail to step up against discrimination and bias. If we expect all employees to bring their best selves to work, we should take to heart the words from the U.S. women’s team campaign: “Equal Play, Equal Pay.” … Keep it up girls!

Rick Zucchi