© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Women's National Team Files Federal Lawsuit Against U.S. Soccer For Equal Pay

United States' Tobin Heath, second from right, is congratulated on her goal by Mallory Pugh (11), Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan (13) during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup soccer match against Brazil in Tampa, Fla., March 5, 2019. (Mike Carlson, File/AP)
United States' Tobin Heath, second from right, is congratulated on her goal by Mallory Pugh (11), Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan (13) during the first half of a SheBelieves Cup soccer match against Brazil in Tampa, Fla., March 5, 2019. (Mike Carlson, File/AP)

With Meghna Chakrabarti

The U.S. women’s national soccer team sues U.S. soccer for gender discrimination. We look at latest steps for female athletes pushing for equity.

Want more from the show? You can get messages right from our hosts (and more opportunities to engage with the show) sent directly to your inbox with the On Point newsletter. Subscribe here.


Lindsay Gibbs, sports reporter at ThinkProgress. Co-host of the sports podcast “Burn It All Down.” ( @linzsports)

Briana Scurry, retired soccer goalkeeper and current assistant coach of the Washington Spirit. Two-time Olympic gold medalist and 1999 World Cup champion. ( @BriScurry)

Rich Nichols, sports industry lawyer currently representing former U.S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo in her lawsuit against U.S. Soccer. Former executive director and general counsel of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association.

Mike Ozanian, managing editor and co-host of Forbes SportsMoney, which airs on the Yes Network. ( @MikeOzanian)

From The Reading List

Statement from U.S. Soccer:

U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Women’s National Team reached a collective bargaining agreement two years ago. U.S. Soccer has faithfully and consistently worked with the U.S. Women’s National Team players and staff to provide the team everything it needs to perform at the highest levels possible and compete to win world championships. The substantial and unwavering commitment by U.S. Soccer to those very ideals is evident in our proactive approach to drive the women’s game forward, which includes the creation of two elite women’s international tournaments to increase competition opportunities, adding additional technical and high-performance staff focused only on the USWNT, and enhancing our marketing campaigns. Our continued support and efforts toward enriching the women’s game is every bit as certain today as it will be in the future.

ThinkProgress: “ Women’s national team escalates dispute with U.S. Soccer, filing gender discrimination lawsuit” — “The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team took a big step in its ongoing wage dispute with the U.S. Soccer Federation on Friday — which, not coincidentally, was International Women’s Day — when it filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the organization.

“‘Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts,’ the complaint, filed by all 28 members of the USWNT in United States District Court in Los Angeles, states.

“‘This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players — with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions.’

“Indeed, the USWNT has won three World Cup titles, most recently in 2015, and is one of the favorites headed into the 2019 Women’s World Cup this summer in France. It is currently the top-ranked women’s soccer team in the world. The men’s team failed to even qualify for last year’s men’s World Cup.”

Forbes: “ Revenue Disparity Explains Pay Disparity Between Soccer World Cup’s Men And Women” — “News today that France earned $38 million from FIFA for winning soccer’s World Cup in Russia, while the women’s champion in France this summer will earn just $4 million, has prompted outrage.

“The total prize money for the Women’s World Cup in France this July will be $30 million compared with total prize money of $440 million for the men’s teams at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“‘The difference between the men’s and women’s prize money is ridiculous,’ Tatjana Haenni, who oversaw women’s soccer for FIFA before stepping down in 2017, said, according to the Associated Press. ‘It’s really disappointing the gap between the men’s and women’s World Cups got bigger. It sends the wrong message.’

“Nonsense. When viewed appropriately—based on how much money they generate—women actually make more than men.”

Yahoo Sports: “ Opinion: In filing its lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, the USWNT is doing the exact right thing at the exact right time” — “For two years, it seemed like the matter had been settled. But on Friday, the United States women’s national team resumed its protracted and righteous fight for equal pay with the men’s national team by suing the United States Soccer Federation for ‘institutionalized gender discrimination,’ according to the New York Times.

“On International Women’s Day.

“Three months and three days before the 2019 Women’s World Cup kicks off in France, where the USA will defend its title.

“And it is absolutely right to do this, and do it now.

“You may recall that this isn’t the first time the U.S., the world’s most successful national women’s team by far, has taken legal action against the federation over a gender pay gap. In 2016, five leading players sued for the right to strike ahead of the Rio Olympics, arguing that the memorandum of understanding that replaced their expired collective bargaining agreement didn’t preclude a work stoppage. The federation counter-sued, and the women subsequently filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”

ESPN W: “ USWNT lawsuit: What we know and what it means going forward” — “This is a new chapter in what is already a long story. Female players have for years argued they deserve the same compensation, treatment and working conditions as their male counterparts, as the issue has come to a head on multiple fronts since the 2015 World Cup.

“In March 2016, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo filed a complaint (officially called a charge) with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that can investigate and mediate allegations of discrimination but lacks the power to enforce rulings or enact penalties. Represented by the law firm of Winston & Strawn and attorney Jeffrey Kessler, the same attorney directing the current lawsuit, the five high-profile players alleged, among other things, that the women’s national team members were paid almost four times less than the men in 2015 despite generating significantly more revenue that year.

“At the same time, the USWNTPA continued to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer. The two sides had operated with a memorandum of understanding after the previous CBA expired at the end of 2012. Prior to the EEOC charge, U.S. Soccer filed a lawsuit against the USWNTPA in February 2016, alleging players did not have the right to strike under that memorandum. A judge ruled in the federation’s favor later that year, based on provisions in the previous CBA.”

Stefano Kotsonis produced this hour for broadcast.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.