In a show of support for U.S. women’s soccer players fighting for equal pay, the union representing the men’s national soccer team said their female counterparts should be paid “significantly more,” and accused soccer officials of perpetuating “a false narrative” about the women’s team’s gender discrimination lawsuit.
Last year, 28 members of the U.S. women’s national team, which won the 2019 Women’s World Cup, sued the U.S. Soccer Federation, alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination” and demanding equal pay and other benefits offered to the men. The wildly popular team has been more successful and generates more revenue than the men’s team — but players each make an average of $30,000 less, as well as smaller bonuses for making it to the World Cup.
In a lengthy statement Wednesday, the players’ union for the men’s team, currently negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement after their old one expired in 2018, said “the women were due at least triple what our expired deal was worth in player compensation.”
“For more than 20 years, the Federation has resisted any concept of equal pay or basic economic fairness for the USWNT players,” the players said. “Historically, the Federation also refused to include in the women’s CBA the same provisions as the men’s with respect to air travel, hotels, etc. This is systematic gender discrimination that should have never happened.”
A “false narrative”
The statement also raised blistering criticism of the U.S. Soccer Federation, accusing it of “working very hard to sell a false narrative” against the women, and demanding that they be compensated fairly, based on “the massive surpluses the women helped generate.”
Has the new leadership of the Federation simply admitted that what the former leadership did was wrong? Have they offered to negotiate a new, fair deal with the USWNT representatives? Of course not. Instead, the Federation has doubled down on its misconduct. Rather than promote the sport of soccer in positive ways, they are involved in constant disputes and litigation. Rather than share the massive surpluses the women helped generate with the players, they are using those funds to dramatically increase the Federation’s annual legal fee budget to over $10 million to try to impose massive legal fees the women cannot afford. They’re lobbying and using every legal trick in the book to try to distract Congress, the Judge, and the soon-to-be-empaneled jury.
The federation has reportedly hired lobbyists to fight the lawsuit and related congressional legislation.
The men’s players also urged soccer fans to “write to your Congressional representatives and tell them it is time to reform the Federation.”
“Let the Federation know that you do not believe the false narrative they are circulating,” they said in their statement. “Support the players, not the Federation.”
“Fair and equitable compensation”
In response, the U.S. Soccer Federation said it would continue “our dialogue with the players’ unions with the intention of finding a resolution that works for all parties.”
“Our goal is to determine fair and equitable compensation for our USMNT and USWNT, while also being mindful of how and where we invest our overall financial resources so that we can continue to focus on investing in the development of our players, coaches and referees at all levels,” the federation said in a statement.
Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the women’s players involved in the lawsuit, released a statement on behalf of team co-captain Megan Rapinoe, thanking the men for their support.
“Our great hope is that 2020 will be the year of equal pay. We are grateful for the support of our male colleagues, and also for the overwhelming solidarity from millions of fans and sponsors around the world who have stood with us to fight USSF’s discrimination,” Levinson’s statement said. “Achieving equal pay is so much bigger than our team and our playing fields ― women in workforces everywhere deserve equality now.”
The lawsuit is scheduled for trial in Los Angeles on May 5.