When it comes to women’s professional sports, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) is without question, one of the most popular teams on the female side of the game. The ladies have dominated international competition since iconic sports bra penalty shootout win in the 1999 Women’s World Cup whose team featured Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm. Just last summer, Carli Lloyd’s hat trick against Japan put the U.S. ladies back on top of world in more ways than one.
On March 30, 2016, five standout players on the team filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in regards to their compensation. The complaint claims that the U.S. Soccer federation engaged in wage discrimination by simply paying the ladies significantly less than their male counterparts. The women’s players in which the complaint is filed include Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan.
After the filing, the U.S. soccer federation issued a statement where it highlighted its support for their women’s program as well as women’s soccer programs across the globe. This didn’t come without first expressing its disappointment in the complaint’s filing.
This isn’t the first time the female players and their players association have attempted to renegotiate their compensation, in fact, the last time the subject was brought to the attention of the U.S. federation, the players were sued and the pay structure remained the same.
The players’ have received overwhelming support from the men’s team, former men’s player, Landon Donovan and even presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton.
When it comes to the numbers, the USWNT made U.S. Soccer $20 million more than the men’s team did in 2015. In some reports, it is even said that the men’s team caused the federation a $2 million loss due its poor performances in several qualifying tournaments and matches all over the world. Notably, the CONCAF Gold Cup tournament that was held on U.S. soil in 2015. Fans bought tickets to the final being held in Philadelphia, assuming the U.S. men would qualify for the game as they have in the past. Instead, they fell to Jamaica in the semi-final and were to play for third place in a stadium not far from where the final was being held. Attendance was low, as they lost to Panama in a penalty shootout. It was the first time the U.S. men dropped a game to Panama in over a decade.
In regards to specifically World Cup compensation, the women’s team on received $2 million after winning the cup in Canada, while the men received $9 million after playing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, with a record of 1-2-1 and being eliminated in the round of 16.
“The reality is that this team is more valuable to the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) than the men’s team has been. That’s what the fact’s show.” Jeffery Kessler, who is representing the women but has also represented Tom Brady in his fight against the NFL, stated in a conference call with reporters.
Since the announcement of the complaint, details have been few and far between. Until official legal arrangements are made, the public will only know what the players choose to share with them. Carli Lloyd noted that this fight is not just for them, but for those who came before them and those who will come after them in women’s soccer. A serious of promotional photos with the quote “Equal Play, Equal Pay.” has been circulating social media.