On Thursday, five top players on the U.S. women’s soccer team filed a wage discrimination lawsuit against the team saying they are not being paid what they are worth. Now team officials have fired back a response strongly refuting the charges.
U.S. Soccer points out that the American women earn more money than their peers playing for every other country but pointed out that the American men generate greater revenue than the American women. Significantly, U.S. Soccer maintains that the pay scale the women now rail against is the very one they agreed to in negotiations.
In their suit filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the players said their winning efforts helped the team to become the biggest force in the country for women’s soccer yet U.S. Soccer pays players far less than those of the U.S. men’s team. They also allege their record brought in an additional $20 million in revenue to the team, a largess in which they have not benefitted.
The five players involved in the suit are some of the top female players in the nation and include team co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, along with Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” goal keeper Hope Solo said. “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships, and the U.S.M.N.T. get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”
Now U.S. Soccer is defending itself in a public statement denying the players’ claims.
According to Yahoo! Sports, Russell Sauer, the federation’s outside legal counsel, is arguing the players agreed to the terms offered by the team when they signed on to play.
“It quite frankly seems odd, from a legal perspective, that the players are complaining about a compensation system that they insisted upon, including the very economic terms they’re now complaining about,” Sauer said in a statement. “This is a model of compensation structure that the Players’ Association negotiated specifically for in prior negotiations.”
The lawyer went on to point out, “The Players’ Association asked for and received a structure of guaranteed salary and benefits, rather than pursue their compensation on a pay-to-play basis like the men. That whole process involves tradeoffs.”
Sauer also said there are certain benefits and types of compensation that the female players get that the male players don’t get including certain types of severance pay if they are cut and insurance and injury benefits.
Further, federation spokesman Neil Buethe insisted the numbers the women cited in their lawsuit are incorrect.
“During the last four years, the men’s national team revenues have been significantly higher than the women’s national team’s,” the spokesman said. “The numbers provided in the complaint are at times inaccurate, misleading or even both.”
Finally, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said the filing caught him by surprise and seems illegitimate because of the high pay scale the players already get.
“We are well beyond any compensation that anyone else in the world pays in this situation. And while the ratings and the attendance is starting to rise, we’ve been that way for a long period of time,” Gulati said.
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