US Women’s Soccer Team Paving the Way for Equal Pay

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Members of the US Women’s Soccer team

Abby Malakoff, Entertainment Editor

The US women’s soccer team and the US Soccer Federation have agreed to settle the portion of the players’ 2019 gender discrimination lawsuit related to work conditions, according to court filings on November 24th, 2020, clearing the way for them to pursue an appeal of a pay discrimination claim that was rejected by a federal judge in May. 

Molly Levison, a spokesperson for the U.S. women’s team players, told NBC News that the team is still committed to achieving equal pay for the “next generation of women who will play for this team and this country.”

Agreeing in the settlement to provide the women’s team with comparable conditions to the men’s team, the Federation agreed to include a chartered flight policy for team travel, venues for team events, hotel accommodations and specialized professional support services. 

This agreement on working conditions is a victory for the players and leaves room for them to continue fighting for complete equality in the workplace, including equal pay. 

“We are pleased that the USWNT players have fought for — and achieved — long-overdue equal working conditions,” Levinson said in a statement. “We now intend to file our appeal to the court’s decision, which does not account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job.”

The U.S women’s soccer team has won four FIFA Women’s World Cup titles since the competition’s founding in 1991 and are the international tournament’s defending champions after winning a second consecutive title last year in France.

While the women’s and men’s teams are compensated through different pay structures (the women get fixed salaries while the men are only paid if they play), the women have argued that the total compensation for the men’s team is greater because the bonuses the men receive are so much larger.

Since the coronavirus pandemic has shut down sports in the spring, the federation came under fire for arguing in legal filings that women athletes are less skilled and work less demanding jobs than their male counterparts. 

Court documents filed in the equal pay trial, which captivated the country last summer after the USWNT won its fourth World Cup title in France, show US Soccer lawyers arguing that under the Equal Pay Act, “The job of a [men’s national team player] carries more responsibility within US Soccer than the job of a [women’s national team] player.”

The comments sparked a protest from the players, who wore their warm-up jerseys inside out, hiding the US Soccer crest before their March 11 match against Japan, as well as retribution from major sponsors. The players also took to social media to publicize their injustices. Hours after the protest, Carlos Cordeiro, then the president of US Soccer, resigned.

“This [working conditions]settlement is good news for everyone and I believe will serve as a springboard for continued progress,” US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement.