Players on the United States women’s national team have filed a motion seeking more than $66m in damages and back pay as part of their gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation.
US Soccer, for its part, has filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed entirely. A trial is set for May 5.
In March 2019, members of the USWNT launched a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer in the search for better pay and working conditions, but talks between the two parties ended without resolution in August.
US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro revealed that he was “very disappointed” that mediation talks broke down. He added that US Soccer was committed to resolving the issue “in a fair way” but stated that compromise was needed from the players.
Cordeiro published an open letter on July 29 claiming that US Soccer’s women’s players were actually paid more than their male counterparts from 2010 through 2018. The women’s players branded the calculations a “ruse.”
At the heart of the issue is the fact that the US men’s national team and USWNT have separate collective bargaining agreements with US Soccer, which each have different pay structures.
“Women’s national team players are paid differently because they specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract than the men’s national team, despite being offered, and rejecting, a similar pay-to-play agreement during the past negotiations,” US Soccer said in a statement. “Their preference was a contract that provides significant additional benefits that the men’s national team does not have, including guaranteed annual salaries, medical and dental insurance, paid child-care assistance, paid pregnancy and parental leave, severance benefits, salary continuation during periods of injury, access to a retirement plan, multiple bonuses and more.”
Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the players, disputed US Soccer’s assertions.
“In the most recent CBA negotiation, USSF repeatedly said that equal pay was not an option regardless of pay structure,” Levinson said in a statement. “USSF proposed a ‘pay to play structure’ with less pay across the board. In every instance for a friendly or competitive match, the women players were offered less pay that their male counterparts. This is the very definition of gender discrimination, and of course the players rejected it.”