Working Harder, Earning Less: Inside the Women’s Soccer Team Lawsuit for Equal Pay


The women’s countrywide football team (USWNT) has now received the World Cup four instances and brought domestic 4 Olympic gold medals. (The men’s crew has by no means gained an international title.) The girls also are presently ranked primary within the world, a function they’ve held 10 out of the closing 11 years. (The guys did no longer even qualify for his or her current World Cup.)
Despite all of this, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), which oversees the guys and girls’ countrywide groups for global opposition, will pay winning female football players best a fraction of the reimbursement it will pay to drop male players. That’s why this weekend, while the ladies won the World Cup, the stadium erupted into chants of “equal pay!”

Earlier this yr, on International Women’s Day on March, 28 cutting-edge members of the ladies’ football group, such as superstars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, filed a federal magnificence-action pay discrimination lawsuit in opposition to USSF.
“In mild of our crew’s extraordinary fulfillment on the sphere,” co-captain Carli Lloyd instructed Ms., “it’s a disgrace that we nonetheless are combating for treatment that reflects our achievements and contributions to the sport. We have made progress in narrowing the gender pay hole, however, progress does now not mean that we can forestall working to understand our felony rights and make equality a fact for our sport.”
According to court docket filings, the girls earn only 38 percent of what the guys earn, and overall performance bonuses are even greater skewed. In 2014, the united states gave the men’s crew performance bonuses totaling $5,375,000 for losing inside the Round of 16, but in 2015 supplied the women’s team with best $1,725,000 for prevailing the complete event. Due to their winning report, the women’s crew additionally played 19 more games than the men’s did between 2015 and 2018—an equivalent of a couple of additional guys’ team calendar year season over that term.
In different phrases, the women are working substantially extra than the guys and outperforming them—however nevertheless incomes drastically much less.
USSF claims that woman athletes deserve less pay because their video games produce much less cash, but the gamers allege that they were paid much less even at some point of instances when they earned greater profit, performed more video games, gained extra games, earned more championships and/or garnered better television audiences than male players. According to the grievance, USSF made more than $17 million in unexpected profit in 2016, largely because of the girls’ group, yet nonetheless paid girl gamers much less than the male players.
The USSF also sets price ticket prices to the girls’ video games lower than the guys’ games, and offers significantly much less marketing and merchandising guide to the girls’ video games, ensuing in what they knew as a “USSF-synthetic sales melancholy,” and USSF then used as a “pretext for decrease repayment” for the female athletes.
“One of the motives that girls don’t generate as plenty cash as men,” sports economist Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College explained to Ms., “is due to the fact they had been neglected as expert athletes, and their leagues have been under-advertised and under-promoted. And a part of that has to do with attitudes towards girls.”
Tens of hundreds of thousands of greenbacks in public subsidies have financed and promoted men’s soccer for years, and the media promotes men’s groups greater as properly. Women’s sports obtain handiest four percentage of all recreation media insurance, in spite of women being 40 percentage of all sports individuals. This “ancient and cultural bags,” argues Zimbalist, contributes considerably to overall revenue differentials between men’s and girls sports and underneath-investment in women’s teams.
In addition, to pay discrimination, the lady players also allege that the united states discriminate against them in “nearly every element” of their working situations, which includes playing, education and tour conditions and promoting, aid and development for their games. From 2014 to 2017, the girls’ team performed 13 instances on artificial turf, which is much more likely to motive injuries, even as the guys performed on turf best once. The USSF turned into also much more likely to charter non-public planes for the guys’ group whilst requiring the women’s crew to take industrial flights. In 2017, the U.S. Chartered flights for the guys’ crew on seventeen occasions, whilst failing to accomplish that even once for the women’s crew.
“The backside line is straightforward,” USWNT former co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn instructed Ms. “It is inaccurate for us to be paid and valued less for our paintings because of our gender. Every member of this team works quite tough to gain the success that we’ve had for us. We are standing up now so that our efforts, and those of future USWNT gamers, will be pretty identified.”

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