The United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT) have received backing in their equal pay lawsuit from the men’s national side players.
The USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against US Soccer in March 2019, seeking £52.8m ($66m) in damages under the Equal Pay Act. They claimed US Soccer had engaged in “institutionalised gender discrimination”, which “has caused, contributed to, and perpetuated gender-based pay disparities”.
The lawsuit was knocked back last May, however, when US District Judge R Gary Klausner dismissed USWNT’s claims. The four-time World Cup winners did manage to secure a partial deal in April, gaining venue selection, charter flights, hotel accommodations and professional support staff.
Following the setback, the USWNT asked for their wage claims to be reinstated. The players of the men’s national team (USMNT) have now filed an amicus brief in the case currently in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, strongly expressing their support for their female counterparts.
The brief reads: “The United States Soccer Federation markets the United States men’s and women’s national teams under the slogan, ‘One Nation. One Team.’
“But for more than thirty years, the Federation has treated the women’s national team players as second-class citizens, discriminating against the women in their wages and working conditions and paying them less than the men’s national team players, even as US Soccer has enjoyed a period of extraordinary financial growth.
“The Federation has never offered or provided equal pay to the women, and the district court’s holding to the contrary cannot be squared with the facts.”
The male players also claimed their female counterparts had to “consistently achieve better outcomes” than them to achieve equal pay in the sport.
The USWNT have won both the Women’s World Cup and the Olympic Games a record four times. They are currently in the semi-finals at Tokyo 2020 after defeating the Netherlands in the quarter-finals last week.
In contrast, the USMNT have never won the World Cup, exiting the tournament in the round of 16 in 2010 and 2014. They failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“A woman’s rate of pay is not equal to a man’s if the woman must consistently achieve better outcomes merely to get to the same place,” the USMNT said.
It remains to be seen whether the USMNT’s amicus brief has any effect on the ruling – the process still has months to go before a decision is made. But, the words of the male players will likely put increased pressure on US Soccer.