The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, four-time World Cup champions and Olympic Gold Medal winners, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in March 2019 requesting a payment of $67 million dollars in reparations. 28 members on the team, listed as plaintiffs, are seeking equal pay with their male counterparts on the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.
This week, the USSF stated that the USMNT players have “more responsibility” and require a “higher skill level” than the women’s team and deserve to be paid more. The USSF also determined that the men’s team plays in tournaments with cash prizes, whereas the women’s team does not.
This is because organizations like the USSF and FIFA, who are large voices in deciding cash prizes, have not offered women equal winnings as they have to men. FIFA is notorious for the corruption within the organization and now faces opposition for its gender inequity. The USSF has invested the most in women’s soccer than any other country and the next push forward is to commit to paying all players the same pay regardless of gender.
The USMNT team released a public statement in July 2019 backing the women’s team after staying silent for some time. Both teams point out that USSF misrepresents statistics when it’s convenient for the organization. Carlos Cordeiro, President of USSF, argued that they paid the women’s team more than the men’s team in the past several years.
The maximum salaries listed on the NWSL and MLS’s respective websites are glaringly different. The NWSL maximum player salary for 2020 is $50,000 and the MLS maximum salary is $612,500. These numbers reveal a sharp gender pay gap that Cordeiro did not address.
Other discussions around gender inequity include paid maternity leave for players. Serena Williams recently spoke out about how she was faced with potential pay cuts during and after her pregnancy with her daughter in 2017. Sydney Leroux Dwyer, former USWNT player and current Orlando Pride player, in the last month, was trolled on Twitter for paying more in childcare than what she was paid by the NWSL. She responded by elaborating that women often have to choose between “motherhood and chasing their dreams”, and she is trying to do both.
The USWNT’s story of inequality is part of the larger issue of closing the gender pay gap in America. White women earn 78 cents, Black women earn 64 cents, and Latina women earn 56 cents for every $1 a man earns. The fight for gender equality will not stop until women are paid the same as men.
Featured Image via TIME Magazine