USWNT equal pay lawsuit: US Soccer argues men's team player "carries more responsibilities"

US Soccer says that the job of a men's soccer player “carries more responsibility within US soccer than the job of a WNT player, from an Equal Pay Act standpoint".

The United States women's team is suing the USSF, accusing the federation of gender discrimination and demanding $66 million in back pay under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act.

The United States women's team is suing the USSF, accusing the federation of gender discrimination and demanding $66 million in back pay under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act.   -  Getty Images

The United States Soccer Federation says that the job of a men's soccer player “carries more responsibility within US soccer than the job of a WNT player, from an Equal Pay Act standpoint".

Lawyers for the USSF cite television ratings to back the claim, arguing that US men's national team games have attracted more than three times the number of viewers per game than women's games since 2017.

The United States women's team is suing the USSF, accusing the federation of gender discrimination and demanding $66 million in back pay under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act.

Read | USWNT seeks $66M in damages from US Soccer in gender discrimination lawsuit

Both sides have requested a summary judgement from the judge presiding in the case, seeking a ruling in their favour before the May 5 trial in Los Angeles.

On Saturday, USSF president Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter stating that the federation had “offered to provide identical compensation to our women's and men's players for all matches controlled by US Soccer.”

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United States fans hold up an equal pay sign during an international friendly match between the United States woman's national team and the New Zealand women's national team.   -  Getty Images

 

But Cordeiro said the issue of $66 million in back pay related to disparities in prize money awarded by FIFA for the men's and women's World Cups -- an amount that the USSF could not afford to make up.

Germany won $35 million for its victory in the 2014 World Cup while France earned $38 million after triumphing in Russia in 2018.

Also read | Men’s team blasts US Soccer, backs women’s equal pay fight

The United States women, victors in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, earned total prize money of $6 million over the two tournaments.

“There is indeed a significant difference in World Cup prize money awarded by FIFA to the men's and women's championship teams,” Cordeiro wrote.

 

“However it is not reasonable or fiscally sound for US Soccer to make up the gap. It would seriously impair our ability to support our mission.”

'Hostile crowds' a factor too

The USSF added that having to play regularly in front of hostile crowds in Mexico and Central America is also why the US men's national team should be treated differently to their female counterparts

The USSF said the fact that the men's team routinely plays in intimidating arenas showed that their jobs were different to the women's team.

In its submission filed Tuesday, the USSF argues that the different work environments of the men's and women's teams was a reason why their jobs could not be regarded as the same under the Equal Pay Act.

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Players on the USA women’s national team sued the federation last March alleging institutionalised gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation between the men’s and women’s teams.   -  Getty Images

 

Related | Australia announces equal pay for men and women footballers

“(Mens National Team) players routinely play matches (important World Cup qualifiers, in particular) throughout Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean,” the filing says. “The WNT (Women's National Team) does not.”

“Opposing fan hostility encountered in these MNT road environments, especially in Mexico and Central America, is unmatched by anything the WNT must face while trying to qualify for an important tournament.

“Even the hostility of fans at home crowds for the MNT in some friendlies can be unlike anything the WNT faces. This is all evidence of substantially different jobs under the EPA (Equal Pay Act).”

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