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The Best Soccer Team In America Is Fed Up With Second-Rate Pay

CREDIT: AP/ DYLAN PETROHOLIS, THINKPROGRESS
CREDIT: AP/ DYLAN PETROHOLIS, THINKPROGRESS

On Thursday, five of the biggest stars on the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) — Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo — filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) with wage discrimination.

The players, who were all key members of the Women’s World Cup championship team last year, say that while the popularity and success of the USWNT generates revenue for the federation, they are still paid less than their male counterparts.

“I think the timing is right,’’ Lloyd told Matt Lauer in an interview on TODAY. “I think that we’ve proven our worth over the years. Just coming off of a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. And we want to continue to fight.”

While only five women signed the complaint, the players say it will be filed on behalf of the entire USWNT.

Jeffrey Kessler, the USWNT’s lawyer, says that according to official USSF budget figures, women on the national team earned as little as 40 percent of what USMNT players earned, despite being far more successful on the field and “were shortchanged on everything from bonuses and appearance fees to per diems.”

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The inequality in pay between men’s and women’s soccer players is not a new revelation. The USWNT received $2 million for winning the World Cup, while men’s teams who lost in the first round of the World Cup earn $8 million. But while most people account for the discrepancy by bringing up the disparity in revenue generated by men’s and women’s soccer, that argument doesn’t hold up when comparing the U.S. teams.

The women’s national team generates comparable — and often greater — revenue than their male counterparts.

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https://twitter.com/DannyPage/status/715519791470092288

“While we have not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we are disappointed about this action,” USSF said in response to the filing. “We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”

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Although U.S. Soccer has indeed been a leader in developing and supporting women’s soccer, that doesn’t mean that the current pay structure is fair to the women. The entire breakdown of pay discrepancies is worth looking over, but perhaps the most telling signs of discrimination can be found in the bonus structures for friendlies.

While the EEOC is only going to look at the financial side of the dispute, this filing is part of a much larger divide between the USWNT and the federation. A New York Daily News investigation published on Wednesday exposed the scope of the discrimination the USWNT deals with, from playing surfaces to television deals to a complete lack of financial transparency.

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Last winter, a USWNT World Cup Victory Tour match was cancelled when the team arrived to the field and found it covered with sharp rocks and dangerous turf.

In February, U.S. Soccer sued the women’s national team over the validity of their collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The USWNT claims that there is not currently a valid CBA, while USSF thinks that the current CBA is good through the end of the season. That legal battle is ongoing, and there is the lingering threat of a strike, which could potentially impact the Olympics this summer. Reportedly, the USWNT did not file this suit until hearing from USSF that a new CBA would not bring about equal pay.

“I’ve been through numerous CBA negotiations, and honestly not much has changed,’’ Solo said on TODAY. “We believe now the time is right because we believe it’s a responsibility for women’s sports, specifically women’s soccer, to really do whatever it takes for equal pay and equal rights and to be treated with respect.”