The USWNT file gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer

A battle that began in 2016 has reached a new level as the United States Women's National Team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer on March 8th, 2019.

The USWNT is claiming that the federation has not compensated them as equally as the United States Men's National Team in relation to pay equity and working conditions. In a statement released by the team, all 28 players currently on the list for the USWNT have claimed that the federation has participated in "institutionalized gender discrimination" for a very long time and they feel that it is time for that to be corrected.

Equity in marketing revenue, training standards and travel are part of the lawsuit

In the discrimination lawsuit filed, the USWNT claim that not only affects their salaries, but also how many games they play, their training facilities, medical treatment, coaching and even travel. The team also argue that they play more games than the USMNT, win more of them but are still paid less by the federation for the work they put in.

Despite being World champions, the USWNT still feel unfairly compensated by the federation | Source:
Despite being World champions, the USWNT still feel unfairly compensated by the federation | Source:

This is another flash point in a situation that has brewed for a long time. As far back as 2000, the USWNT boycotted a tournament in Australia after not receiving what they felt was a fair pay. More recently, five players on the USWNT filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016. After not seeing any changes for nearly three years, the players received permission from the federation to sue in February and they did just that.

The USWNT will have to prove that their team and their male counterparts do the same work, addresses the differences in their pay structures and how they negotiate their collective bargaining agreements. Their current CBA will not let the USWNT strike to further their point until the end of 2021 which also limits what they can do as they look to win this fight. The legal representatives for the team claim to have strong evidence for their lawsuit and as U.S. Soccer has not released a statement at the time of writing, it remains to be seen as to who has the upper hand here.

Outside pressure continues to build against U.S. Soccer

After the news dropped of the gender discrimination lawsuit by the USWNT, the USMNT dropped a statement in support of the women's team through their players' association United States National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA). In their statement, the USMNT stated that they "fully supports the efforts of the USWNT to achive equal pay". The statement goes on to say that the USMNT also are committed to a revenue-sharing model that will "find a way towards fair compensation" and that an "equal division of revenue" between the two programs is a "primary pursuit". This is an interesting stance by the USMNT as their collective bargaining agreement expired in 2018 and as they negotiate a new CBA, they are looking to address the division of revenue fairly between the USMNT and the USWNT as part of their goals.

On top of that, Adidas AG also announced that if any of the teams sponsored by them during the upcoming 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup wins the tournament, they will receive the same performance bonus payout as their male counterparts. This is the first time a sponsor has decided to take this approach at such a major tournament in women's soccer and a sign of how other major industries involved in the sport are looking to compensate their female teams fairly.

This could be the start of a much larger movement towards equal pay for female sports teams and if U.S. Soccer wants to avoid the negative publicity and consequences that could come by them not moving with the times, it could be another blow to a federation that was experienced some push back both within and with out its ranks over the last few years.