By Andrew Warshaw
March 11 – Just months before they are due to start the defence of their World Cup title, all 28 members of the United States women’s national squad have begun legal action against their own federation alleging years of “institutionalized gender discrimination”.
The lawsuit, deliberately filed on International Women’s Day last Friday, seeks equal pay and treatment with the US men’s team and, if successful, it could cost the US Soccer Federation millions of dollars.
The 28 plaintiffs, including some of best-known women’s players in world football such as Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, claim gender inequality has been reflected not only in terms of pay but also medical treatment and travel arrangements.
“Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that,” Morgan said in a statement. “We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility. As players, we deserved to be paid equally for our work, regardless of our gender.”
Whilst the U.S. women have won three World Cups, the men failed to qualify for the last World Cup in Russia. Their best finish remains third place in 1930.
“I think a lot of people look to us and our team and the collective voice that we have and what we’ve stood for, for inspiration and for power, and as an ally in this broader fight for equality and human rights, really,” said Rapinoe.
The lawsuit, similar to a discrimination case made by five American players three years ago, claims that while the US women players were paid a total of $1.725 million in bonuses after winning the trophy in 2015, the previous year the USSF handed out $5.375 million in bonuses to the American male players after they reached the round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup.
“Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts,” the lawsuit, filed with the US District Court in Los Angeles, stated.
“This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players, with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions.”
Whilst the USSF have not yet commented, the men’s US team issued a statement in support of their female colleagues.
“The United States National Soccer Team Players Association fully supports the efforts of the US Women’s National Team Players to achieve equal pay,” it read. “Specifically, we are committed to the concept of a revenue-sharing model to address the US Soccer Federation’s ‘market realities’ and find a way towards fair compensation.”
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