The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team (USWST) won their second straight World Cup Championship and fourth overall on July 7, 2019, in a 2-0 win over the Netherlands. Their brilliant play as the dominant team of their era was matched by the scrutiny over the brash nature of their post-goal celebrations, lack of interest in going to the White House and equal pay for their work, success and popularity.
Suit against U.S. Soccer Federation
The team filed an equal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation earlier this year that alleged that the men were paid more and better supported by the governing body despite the men not coming close to the women’s team success.
The suit, in part, reads:
“At this moment of tremendous pride for America, the sad equation remains all too clear, and Americans won’t stand for it anymore. These athletes generate more revenue and garner higher TV ratings but get paid less simply because they are women,” said Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the USWNT players in their equal pay lawsuit.
Along with pay, the suit list such areas of gender-based discrimination as:
- Lesser training facilities and support for development
- More difficult travel conditions, including buses and coach seats on commercial airlines versus a charter flight that men enjoy
- Equal promotion of games
The suit to be mediated
The team has delivered another World Cup win since it filed the suit. With the crowd in Lyon, France chanting “equal pay” during the closing moments of the game, the recent success and raised the profile of the team will likely strengthen its case when the two sides sit down to mediation, which they tentatively agreed to do before the tournament began.
FIFA also confronted
Even if the team had lost, it would still have a strong argument regarding the issue of payment and support. Blatant pay disparity by the World Cup governing body of FIFA is highlighted by $400 million in prize money for the 2018 men’s tournament while women received $30 million in 2019. FIFA announced that it plans to double the pay for the women’s cup in 2023, but U.S. star forward Megan Rapinoe said it should be doubled now in 2019 and then quadrupled in 2023, and even if that takes place, it is not close to the amount the men are paid.
The USWST’s lawsuit reflects U.S. labor laws’ equal pay for the same work as well as equal treatment. The team’s success on and off the soccer pitch, however, will likely inspire others. Businesses are advised to double check their companies to make sure that they are legally compliant and to recognize areas for improvement before getting caught up in this soccer-inspired movement.