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US Soccer says women’s team earns more than men, but players dispute claims

The United States women’s national team’s ongoing battle for equal pay and working conditions took another twist when US Soccer Federation (USSF) president Carlos Cordeiro published an open letter on July 29 claiming that its women’s players were actually paid more than their male counterparts from 2010 through 2018.

The move follows growing public and corporate support for the Women’s World Cup-winning USWNT in its gender discrimination lawsuit with the USSF, a matter which is going to mediation.

According to a letter and accompanying fact sheet released by Cordeiro, the USSF paid out $34.1m (€28.2m) in salary and game bonuses to the women, compared to $26.4m to the men, from 2010-18.

It was also claimed the men’s team generated more revenue than the women, with the USWNT bringing in $101.3m over 238 games between 2009-19 while the men generated $185.7m over 191 games in this time frame.

Cordiero says the information comes from “an extensive analysis of the past 10 years of US Soccer’s financials”.

Comparing compensation between the two teams is difficult, however, because the pay structure is based on different collective bargaining agreements.

The letter, predictably, was not received well by the USWNT. “This is a sad attempt by USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress,” said Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players in matters involving the lawsuit. “The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally.”

“The USSF fact sheet is not a ‘clarification’, ” Levinson’s statement added. “It is a ruse.”

In an interview with the New York Times, co-captain Megan Rapinoe suggested that the USWNT could go on strike if the women are not paid what they are demanding.

“We realize our worth now, and in the past we haven’t quite known what our market value is. If we get to the next round of collective bargaining agreement negotiations, which I think is in two years, and we’re not getting what we want, then we’re going to need to take more serious action than we’ve taken before and not settle for crap,” Rapinoe said.