U.S. Women’s Soccer Team allege Pay Discrimination

Five top women soccer stars from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team are alleging pay discrimination by the U.S. Soccer Federation, the governing body for the sport in America. Numbers recently uncovered by the New York Daily News have shown the huge difference in compensation given to the U..S. men’s and women’s soccer teams.

Team members, Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan filed a federal complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In the complaint, the players cite the disparity– they are paid nearly four times less than the men’s team players, even as they marched to the team’s Third World Cup Championship last year.  The women athletes are also stating that they are being shortchanged on everything from bonuses to appearance fees, per diems and the quality of the fields they play on.

Concurrently, there is a legal dispute between the women’s union and the federation over the validity of their collective bargaining agreement, which expires later this year. Their talks have not been productive and the Federation is calling their demand for equal pay “in irrational request.”

Hope Solo, goalkeeper for the team, said, “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, and the [men’s national team] get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.” Co-Captain, Becky Sauerbrunn said, “We feel like it was the right thing to do. We’re fighting the good fight. U.S. Soccer has no justification for paying us as little as they do.” Jeffrey Kessler, the attorney representing the women’s team players, said in an interview “We’re hopeful that we’ll get the right result, or that U.S. Soccer will do the right thing and agree to equal compensation,” He further explained that there have been many precedents for such an investigation outside of the sports world. Because both the men’s and women’s teams work for the same employer, makes this an unusual case.

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team recently beat Colombia 7-0 in an exhibition game before another large and appreciative crowd.  The team flexed its negotiating power and offered more proof that they are the #1 team in the world, in addition to producing substantial revenue at the box office.