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US Women's Soccer Team Seeks Over $66 Million in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

According to an Associated Press (AP) report, the papers filed in court Thursday included the collective bargaining agreements (CBA) of the US men’s and women’s soccer teams, which were previously not available to the public. The agreements show the different pay structures for the two teams.

“Women’s national team players are paid differently because they specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract than the men’s national team, despite being offered, and rejecting, a similar pay-to-play agreement during the past negotiations,” a federation spokesperson said in a recent statement,

the Wall Street Journal reported. “Their preference was a contract that provides significant additional benefits that the men’s national team does not have, including guaranteed annual salaries, medical and dental insurance, paid child-care assistance, paid pregnancy and parental leave, severance benefits, salary continuation during periods of injury, access to a retirement plan, multiple bonuses and more.”

However, Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the USWNT players involved in the lawsuit, dismissed the assertions made in the USSF’s statement.

“In the most recent CBA negotiation, USSF repeatedly said that equal pay was not an option regardless of pay structure. USSF proposed a ‘pay to play structure’ with less pay across the board. In every instance for a friendly or competitive match, the women players were offered less pay than their male counterparts. This is the very definition of gender discrimination, and of course the players rejected it,” Levinson said.

The USWNT filed a lawsuit in March 2019 against the USSF, accusing the sports organization of "institutionalized gender discrimination.” All 28 current members of the team are plaintiffs in the case. The trial is scheduled to start May 5.

‘The Same Degree of Respect’

The suit alleges the USSF discriminates against women by paying them less than men "for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the Men’s National Soccer Team.”

"A comparison of the Women’s National Team and Men’s National Team pay shows that if each team played 20 friendlies in a year and each team won all twenty friendlies, the Women’s National Team players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while similarly situated Men’s National Team players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game against the various levels of competition they would face,” the complaint states.

Carlos Cordeiro, the president of the USSF, was asked during his January 29 pretrial deposition about a statement he made in 2017 about the USWNT not being “treated equally.”

“I felt then, and I still feel to a degree, that the lack of opportunity for our female players was really what was at the root of some of their issues. The fact that the Women’s World Cup generates a fraction of revenue and a fraction of what the men get paid is a reflection, frankly, of lack of opportunity. ... Women’s soccer outside of the United States doesn’t have the same degree of respect,” Cordeiro said during his deposition, AP reported.

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