Top Female Players Accuse U.S. Soccer of Wage Discrimination

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From The New York Times:

by Andrew Das

U.S. Soccer, the governing body for the sport in America, pays the members of the men’s and women’s national team who represent the United States in international competitions. The men’s team has historically been mediocre. The women’s team has been a quadrennial phenomenon, winning world and Olympic championships and bringing much of the country to a standstill in the process.

Citing this disparity, as well as rising revenue numbers, five players on the women’s team filed a federal complaint Wednesday, accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination because, they said, they earned as little as 40 percent of what players on the United States men’s national team earned even as they marched to the team’s third world championship last year. The five players, some of the most prominent women’s athletes in sports, said they were shortchanged on everything from bonuses to appearance fees to per diems.

The case, submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination — is the latest front in the spreading debate over equal treatment of female athletes. A tennis official was forced to resign recently after saying that female players “ride on the coattails of the men,” and the N.C.A.A. has drawn scrutiny for the financial contrasts between the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said goalkeeper Hope Solo, one of the five players to sign the complaint. “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships, and the U.S.M.N.T. get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

U.S. Soccer pronounced itself “disappointed” in the complaint filed by Solo, the national team co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Megan Rapinoe.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, U.S. Soccer recounted the leading role the federation has played in the growth of women’s soccer, including its introduction to the Olympic Games and in providing full-time salaries for top players. And it said it was willing to discuss compensation as part of continuing talks with the women’s team over a new collective bargaining agreement.

“Our efforts to be advocates for women’s soccer are unwavering,” it said. Sunil Gulati, the president of U.S. Soccer, made no public comment.

Opportunities for women to participate in sports have increased greatly in the more than 40 years since the passage of the gender-equity legislation known as Title IX. But sports officials continue to struggle with matters of compensation.

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