Women's U.S. Soccer Players Sue Federation Soccer: U.S. Most Successful Team in Women's History

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 9, 2019 | Go to article overview

Women's U.S. Soccer Players Sue Federation Soccer: U.S. Most Successful Team in Women's History


Byline: Will Hobson The Washington Post

Just months before they are set to defend their world title on the global stage, the members of the United States women's national soccer team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer on Friday, accusing the national federation of paying lower salaries to women and subjecting them to more dangerous playing conditions than their male counterparts.

The lawsuit continues a yearslong battle between the women's team, whose players have vaulted in status while winning the World Cup three times, and U.S. Soccer over their compensation and treatment compared with that of the men's team, which has accomplished far less, never winning a world title and failing to qualify for the most recent World Cup.

It is also the latest entry in a series of high-profile disputes over gender equity in international team sports, including those in basketball, hockey and tennis.

In the lawsuit, filed on International Women's Day in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the women's team members allege that U.S.

Soccer has "utterly failed to promote gender equality" and assert that federation officials have "gone so far as to claim that 'market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men.' "

According to the suit, a comparison of pay schedules for the teams shows that if each played 20 exhibition games in a year, members of the men's team could earn an average of $263,320 each, while women's team players could earn a maximum of $99,000.

In 2016, five members of the U.S. women's team similarly alleged wage discrimination in a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a precursor to Friday's lawsuit. U.S. Soccer declined to comment Friday.

The suit is on behalf of 28 current women's players -- including stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd -- and seeks class-action status, which would allow former players from teams dating from 2015 to join.

"We feel a responsibility not only to stand up for what we know we deserve as athletes, but also for what we know is right -- on behalf of our teammates, future teammates, fellow women athletes, and women all around the world," Rapinoe said in a news release Friday.

"Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that," Morgan said, also in a news release. "We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility. As players, we deserved to be paid equally for our work, regardless of our gender."

The United States is the most successful team in women's soccer history, winning World Cup titles in 1991, 1999 and 2015 to go with four Olympic gold medals. With marketable stars and memorable on-field moments -- most notably Brandi Chastain's penalty-kick goal to win the 1999 World Cup on U.S. soil -- the team and its best players have acquired a level of celebrity perhaps unmatched by women in other American professional team sports. Their dispute with U.S. Soccer mirrors the issues that prompted a near-strike by the U.S. women's hockey team over alleged gender disparities that was averted weeks before the 2017 world championships. And it also comes as WNBA players are mulling collective action over allegations they receive a lower percentage of their league's revenue than their counterparts in the NBA, and as women's tennis players continue to push for more tournaments beyond the Grand Slam events to agree to equal prize payouts for men and women. …

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