The ongoing battle between the United States Soccer Federation and the U.S. Women’s National Team players escalated with today’s news that five of the team’s most prominent members filed a federal complaint on Wednesday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging wage discrimination.
The players are co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, and Megan Rapinoe, with the quintet noting that they are filing on behalf of the entire team.
The players attorney Jeffrey Kessler used figures released by U.S. Soccer in February to make the case that the women are paid far less than their male counterparts despite the obvious and considerable difference in achievements in favor of the women.
Kessler said that the men make as much as 60% more than the women and added that the World Cup champions and Olympic Champions are underpaid not just in salary but also on bonuses, appearance fees, and even on daily expenses.
This action by the players comes after a lawsuit filed in February by U.S. Soccer against the players union seeking to tie the players to a memorandum of agreement that U.S. Soccer says stands in for the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the sides that expired in 2012.
The traditional argument against equal pay for women in sports has been that the men generate more revenue but with the U.S. WNT riding a wave of popularity following its World Cup win in Canada the women outperformed the men at the register as well as on the pitch in 2015 and are expected to do the same in 2016.
The EEOC filing and the U.S. Soccer lawsuit are separate matters but are part of an increasingly contentious relationship between employer and employee.
The player’s concerns came to the fore in December when the team refused to take to the artificial turf at Aloha Stadium forcing the cancellation of the Victory Tour match. The team has long been unhappy that they had to play on synthetic surfaces, pointing out that the same is rarely required of the U.S. MNT.
Kesler certainly seems confident in the player’s case saying, “this is the strongest case of discrimination against women athletes in violation of law that I have ever seen.”
U.S. Soccer released a statement of its own that emphasizes its role in developing the women’s game in the United States and around the world. The statement doesn’t directly address the player’s financial inequality charges although it does say, “we are committed to and engaged in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that addresses compensation with the Women’s National Team Players Association, to take effect when the current CBA expires at the end of this year. U.S. Soccer will continue to be an advocate on the global soccer stage to influence and develop the women’s game and evolve FIFA’s compensation model.”