Five members of the United States women’s national soccer team — Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo — brought a legal motion against the United States Soccer Federation Friday, alleging wage discrimination, espnW reported. This motion, filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a government agency that enforces federal employment anti-discrimination laws, notes the disparity between the pay for the men’s team and the women’s team.
Those who follow soccer know that the women’s team most recently won both the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics, making them among the most accomplished American teams in history. The men’s team, in contrast, has a record that pales in comparison. It has never won the World Cup and hasn’t won a medal in the Olympics in more than 100 years.
The women’s team only received $2 million for winning the World Cup, but the men received $9 million for losing in the round of 16, CBS News reported. Similar disparities can also be found in the bonuses players claim, as the women each received a $75,000 bonus for winning the World Cup finals compared to the $390,000 bonus they would have gotten had they been men. The complaint also mentions unequal treatment in travel accommodations and field conditions.
CBS News also reported that the women’s team is expected to bring in $5 million in profit this year, while the men’s team is projected to lose $1 million. Startlingly, the USSF spends approximately $30 million on the men’s team but just $10 million on the women’s team. These figures show the gravity of the wage disparity, for the USSF surely has the money to pay the women’s team more.
Solo, one of the most senior members of the team, told NBC’s “Today” that after nearly 15 years on the team and numerous salary negotiations, she has not seen much movement toward paying the women’s team a rate equal to the men’s. While the USSF has asserted that it is fully committed to the women’s game, citing its historical funding of women’s soccer, it also recently sued the women’s team in a Chicago court to “confirm the existence” of a collective bargaining agreement, according to espnW, with the hope of preventing the women from striking just before the Rio Olympics.
The motion that the five women filed is independent but not necessarily unrelated to this lawsuit. This action certainly muddles the intentions of the USSF. The fact that the federation is preemptively suing the women’s team suggests that it is worried the women could win, or it does not want them to have the upper hand in future salary negotiations that could occur right before the Olympics.
In all, it is a shame that the women’s team — which by nearly all measures is more accomplished and profitable than the men’s team — is paid just a quarter of what the men’s team is paid. At a time when the gender wage gap is slowly decreasing, such a disparity should not be accepted by the players, the USSF or the public in general. If anything, based on team accomplishments and profitability, the women’s team should be paid more than the men’s team. Therefore, the USSF should agree immediately to settle the pending legal action and at least equalize pay between the two national teams.