US Soccer: Women's Team Is Paid More Than Men's

Ruben Hill
July 30, 2019

U.S. Soccer on Monday released a lengthy fact sheet detailing its financial commitment to the World Cup-winning women's national team program, stepping squarely into the debate about equal pay only weeks before the federation and the team are scheduled to enter mediation to try to resolve the players' federal gender discrimination lawsuit. According to a letter released Monday, July 29, 2019 by U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, the federation has paid out $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the women as opposed to $26.4 million paid to the men.

Cordeiro says the Men and Women have different pay structures based on how they negotiated their Collective Bargaining Agreements. including more guaranteed pay salary for the women and different ("more robust") benefits packages.

U.S. Soccer contends that it should not be held responsible for the inequity in Federation Internationale de Football Association prize money, with the victor of the men's tournament in Russia previous year receiving more ($38 million) than the total prize pool for the 24 teams in the recently concluded women's tournament. The total does not include the value of benefits received only by the women, like health care.

Responding publicly for the first time to weeks of public and even congressional criticism since the USA won the Women's World Cup while national team players are in the midst of suing the federation for gender discrimination, Cordeiro sent an open letter to federation members that included the results of what he termed extensive analysis of 10 years of financial data.

"The fact is the women's team requested the same compensation structure as the men have, so they would be paid equally for equal performance", the statement continued. For example, players for the women's team have a base salary while the men are paid primarily based on matches and performance. I want you to know that U.S. Soccer is committed to doing right by our players, and I've been encouraged by the public comments from players expressing their desire for a cooperative approach.

"Together", he wrote, "I believe we can get this done".

"This is a sad attempt by the USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress", Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the players, said in response to the letter. But the issue never lingered far from the stage; the women heard chants of "Equal pay!" even before they received their winner's medals at the World Cup, and officials like Cordeiro were heckled by the same mantra during the team's ticker-tape celebrations in NY. This is why they use words like 'fair and equitable, ' not equal in describing pay. With that money included, federation analysis said that the men earned $41 million for the same nine-year period, compared to $39.7 million for the women.

The suit alleges that the federation discriminates by paying the women less than members of the men's national team "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 MNT".

She adds, "Any apples to apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women". The men's team did not make the field for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, while the women have won back-to-back World Cup titles.

The U.S. Women's National Team filed a lawsuit in March against the USSF claiming that women were consistently paid less than the men.

During that time frame US Soccer provided in Monday's letter, the women have won two World Cups, in 2015 and earlier this month, while the men missed the 2018 World Cup, having failed to qualify.

U.S. Soccer has faced significant public criticism for its stance on pay in the wake of the Women's World Cup, beginning with large numbers of fans in the stadium in Lyon, France, chanting "equal pay" minutes after the final against the Netherlands.

"Nevertheless, U.S. Soccer does not view these as losses, but rather as an important investment in our Women's National Team and in the long-term growth of women's soccer", the fact sheet added.

Cordeiro said in the letter that the federation chose to focus on winning the World Cup rather than debate the lawsuit.

Levinson maintains the figures provided by U.S. Soccer are misleading.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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