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The US Women's Soccer team recently scored a court victory for equality in accommodations. Why is equal pay still an issue?

The US women’s soccer team fights for equal pay: Get an update

In this day and age in America, many may be shocked that people are still fighting for equal pay. However, this fight is a recurring reality for the U.S. Women’s National Team.

After a string of lawsuits and proposed deals, the United States Soccer Federation and the U.S. Women’s National Team finally came to an agreement about one aspect of the injustice they face – but sadly, the agreement still doesn’t grant them equal pay.

Women’s agreement

The long standing battle between U.S. women’s soccer teams and the United States Soccer Federation can be traced all the way back to March of 2019. The initial, larger lawsuit from the USWNT claims the women’s team were paid less than the men’s team, and the women were also subjected to worse conditions.

While the United States Soccer Federation hasn’t made any agreements surrounding the women’s team’s claim of unequal pay yet, U.S. Soccer announced last Tuesday that both parties have filed a proposed settlement around the matter of the women’s team receiving unequal conditions. The federation promised to immediately implement their policies relating to “hotel accommodations, staffing, venues, and travel”.

This settlement, filed at the United States District Court for the Central District of California, doesn’t address any past working conditions for the women’s team nor will the settlement involve any payments, according to a U.S. Soccer official. However, this agreement is still great news for the women’s team and has turned their fight for equal pay into a much more hopeful battle.

“This settlement is good news for everyone,” U.S. Soccer’s president, Cindy Parlow Cone said. “. . . and I believe will serve as a springboard for continued progress.”

Where to go from here

For the U.S. Soccer Federation, this settlement is a relief in the effort to resolve the lawsuit following them for almost two years now. For the women’s soccer players, the news acts as a beacon of opportunity, indicating the rest of their demands will eventually be heard and resolved.

In a statement, Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the USWNT players, emphasized “We remain as committed as ever to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve. Our focus is on the future and ensuring we leave the game a better place for the next generation of women who will play for this team and this country.”

“We are pleased that the USWNT players have fought for –  and achieved –  long overdue equal working conditions. We now intend to file our appeal to the court’s decision, which does not account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job.”

Rejected lawsuit

The initial lawsuit filed against the U.S. Soccer Federation back in March of 2019 accused the federation of discrimination by paying the women’s team less than the men’s “for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT”.

In May, the USWNT suffered a tough blow from the case when Judge R. Gary Klausner wrote in his decision that the women’s players did not prove wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. Klausner dismissed their accusations and even claimed that the women’s team actually earned more than the men’s team “on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis”.

Klausner also wrote that the women’s team rejected a collective bargaining agreement giving them the same pay structure as the men’s team. Soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe argued that “the men’s contract was never offered to us and certainly not the same amount of money”.

“To say that we negotiated for our contract and that’s what we agreed to, I think so many women can understand what this feeling is of going into a negotiation knowing equal pay is not on the table,” Rapinoe said. “Knowing anywhere close to your male counterparts is not even on the table.”

Statement from the federation

U.S. Soccer president Parlow Cone said in a statement last Tuesday: “As a former USWNT player, I can promise you that I am committed to equality between the USWNT and USMNT. My goal is, and has always been, to come to a resolution on all equal pay matters and inspire a new era of collaboration, partnership and trust between the USWNT and the Federation”.

However, in response to a price the USWNT set in February on ending their lawsuit, which included $67 million in back pay and damages, Parlow Cone admitted last Tuesday that the payment “would be devastating to our budget and to our programming. But given Covid, not to be overly dramatic, but it would likely bankrupt the federation.”

Instead, Cone stressed numerous times during her conference call that she, along with the federation’s new leadership, was anticipating further discussions surrounding the lawsuit that will hopefully lead to a resolution between the two parties.

How do you feel about the results of this case? What is your prediction on the outcome of this lawsuit? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments
  • “…in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job.” I don’t know why journalists won’t investigate this claim. It’s not anywhere close to being the same job. In a picture on this very page is a woman holding a sign saying “13-0 is cool. Equal pay is cooler.” Now, why is this? Is it fathomable that any men’s game in the World Cup could end in a 13-0 score? No, because the women’s team plays in an immature sport, where only a handful developed nations pose a threat. We trounce the others because we are playing against part-time athletes who have real jobs to pay the bills. Of course we can run the score up. The women often play against amateurs who make up national teams. The men’s team, however, plays against a 200-team roster strong in the world’s most popular sport. There is simply no comparison in the wage potential of men and women. Women’s soccer does not rise to the level of entertainment. Soccer fans know they are watching Jr. high school level play, which they can see every week for free.

    Women’s tennis did it right. They formed their own league, and the crowds were more than willing to pay to see them. THEN, they demanded equal pay in the tournaments, AFTER they had equal box office pay to back them up. This will never happen for women’s soccer. Not enough people care.

    December 11, 2020

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