Five U.S. Women’s Soccer Players Have Filed A Wage Discrimination Lawsuit
Five players on the beloved U.S. women’s soccer team have filed a wage discrimination lawsuit against their employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation. The affidavit for the lawsuit notes that for the last season, in which the U.S. Women’s National Team won the Women’s World Cup, the USSF was projecting a $429,929 loss for the WNT and the Men’s National Team combined — but that thanks almost exclusively to the WNT, the USSF made a $17.7 million profit.
On top of that, the women’s team has won two gold medals in the Olympics in recent years, whereas the men’s team failed to even qualify for both the London and Rio Olympics. But the women’s players make $1,350 per friendly game if they win, and nothing if they tie or lose; the men’s players make $5,000 per game minimum if they lose, and up to more than $17,000 if they win. The MNT earned $9 million for losing in the Round of 16 during the World Cup, whereas the WNT earned $2 million for winning the Women’s World Cup. The women’s players get a $50 domestic per diem and a $60 international per diem while travelling to men’s $62.50 and $75, for reasons totally inexplicable. And so on.
The argument goes that the men’s team is more skilled than the women’s team regardless of ranking, but the WNT’s affidavit argues that “the pre-game, game, and post-game duties, as well as the skill, effort, responsibilities, and working conditions of WNT players are substantially the same and/or greater than those of MNT players.” And especially on an international scale, it’s hard to even make that comparison, because when you do, you get into the question of access and funding. Access to a sport from a young age will generally cultivate better players, and knowing that a career in a sport will pay well enough provides the impetus for players to pursue it. But without funding the team fairly, without marketing their games well enough, without doing outreach to young women, how can the USSF, any soccer federation, or any sport with a women’s league period expect to cultivate more and better players — and from that, as the WNT has shown, more fans and better revenue?
And that’s why this lawsuit is important beyond the scope of these five players. It has to do with girls and the opportunities they are viably afforded in comparison with their boy peers. If women athletes can be not only great players but great revenue generators, there’s really not much of an argument for paying them less.