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US Women's Soccer Team Files Wage-Discrimination Suit Against US Soccer

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2016

(TOP ROW FROM LEFT): USA defender Ali Krieger, forward Alex Morgan, defender Becky Sauerbrunn, goalkeeper Hope Solo, midfielder Lauren Holiday and defender Julie Johnston. (BOTTOM ROW FRO LEFT):  USA midfielder Tobin Heath, midfielder Carli Lloyd, midfielder Morgan Brian, defender Meghan Klingenberg and midfielder Megan Rapinoe pose during the semi-final football match between USA and Germany during their 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal on June 30, 2015. USA won 2-0.     AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

The United States women's national soccer team filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation on Thursday in a push for equal pay.  

According to ESPN.com, Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn attached their names to the suit after a 2015 financial report found that U.S. women's players made close to four times less than U.S. men's players despite having generated almost $20 million more in revenue last year.

Sauerbrunn revealed on Twitter that the decision to file the suit was made by the entire team:

Becky Sauerbrunn @beckysauerbrunn

Five players signed the complaint, but the decision to file was whole-heartedly supported by the entire team. #equalplayequalpay #thegals

The US Soccer Federation released an official response, tweeted by Jeff Carlisle of ESPN:

Jeff Carlisle @JeffreyCarlisle

US Soccer statement re: today's developments related to #uswnt. https://t.co/pqk1GinTCB

Solo was among those who commented on the USWNT's decision to take legal action on NBC's Today on Thursday, per ESPN.com:

I've been on this team for a decade and a half, and I've been through numerous CBA negotiations, and honestly, not much has changed. We continue to be told we should be grateful just to have the opportunity to play professional soccer, to get paid for doing it.

In this day and age, it's about equality. It's about equal rights. It's about equal pay. We're pushing for that. We believe now the time is right because we believe it's our responsibility for women's sports and specifically for women's soccer to do whatever it takes to push for equal pay and equal rights. And to be treated with respect.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton weighed in on the lawsuit:

Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton

Wouldn’t want to face these women on the field or in the courtroom. Every woman deserves equal pay. https://t.co/RBuAFtgpDS

Winston & Strawn co-chairman Jeffrey Kessler—who is representing the USWNT—suggested the case is a difficult one, per a tweet from Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl:

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

USWNT lawyer emphasizes timing of wage discrimination action comes after US Soccer said women would not get equal pay to men in a new CBA.

He was also frank in his assessment of the USSF and where it stands in relation to similar cases in the past, per Andrew Das of the New York Times:

Andrew Das @AndrewDasNYT

Kessler on USWNT filing: 'This is the strongest case of discrimination against women athletes in violation of law that I have ever seen.'

US Soccer lawyer Russell Sauer responded to the news later on Thursday, via Wahl: "USSF never gave US women's players any indication that we would not pay them equally to US men's players."

USSF President Sunil Gulati also responded, via Wahl: "Revenue generation 'absolutely part of the equation' for player pay."

As seen in this graphic, courtesy of NWSL and MLS analyst Danny Page, the numbers show that the United States women's team has been far more profitable than the men's of late:

Everton goalkeeper and USMNT international Tim Howard, who is joining the Colorado Rapids in the summer, supported the women's call for equal pay, per SportsCenter (via Joe Prince-Wright of NBC Sports):

We support the fact that the women should fight for their rights and fight what they think is just compensation. We, on the men’s side, have been fighting that battle for a long, long time and we certainly know what it feels like. We felt underpaid for a long time and we had to negotiate our way to a settlement.

Former USA international striker Landon Donovan questioned the argument:

The USWNT is the most dominant squad in women's soccer and is coming off a FIFA World Cup win in 2015.

While the men's team managed to make it out of the group stage at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it continues to struggle when it comes to reaching the upper echelon on the international stage.

Team USA has won gold in women's soccer at each of the past three Olympic Games and is likely to make it four in a row this summer in Rio de Janeiro.

It is unclear at this point if the USWNT's decision to take action against the USSF puts its participation in any type of jeopardy, but it could have a massive platform to further its cause if it is still playing under the current conditions during the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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