In the midst of a lawsuit and mounting public pressure for equal pay between the men's and women's national teams, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter to "friends, colleagues and supporters of U.S. Soccer."
As Graham Hays of ESPN.com detailed, the letter argues that the federation paid the women's team $34.1 million from 2010 to 2018 compared to $26.4 million for the men's team.
U.S. Soccer said the figures were verified by an independent accounting firm and included salaries, bonuses and the National Women's Soccer League salaries paid by the federation. It does not include money received by U.S. Soccer from FIFA for World Cup bonuses.
Hays noted including the money from FIFA brought the totals to $41 million for the men and $39.7 million for the women, although U.S. Soccer argued it shouldn't be held responsible for the inequity of FIFA prize money for its biggest tournament.
Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the United States women's national team players, released a statement in response (h/t Hays):
"This is a sad attempt by the USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress. The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally. This is why they use words like 'fair' and 'equitable,' not 'equal,' in describing pay.
"The numbers the USSF uses are utterly false, which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women's players' compensation. Any apples-to-apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women."
The Associated Press (h/t USA Today) pointed out it is "difficult" to compare payments between the men's and women's players since the collective bargaining agreements are different and call for the men's players to make money based on matches and performances while the members of the women's team have a base salary.
Cordeiro's letter comes after the USWNT players were met with chants from fans calling for equal pay after they won the World Cup with a victory over the Netherlands in the final. There were similar chants during a celebratory parade in New York City when the players returned stateside.
That was far from the only public pressure facing the federation after the USWNT won the 2019 World Cup.
The AP noted Sen. Joe Manchin introduced a bill that called for the withholding of federal funding for the 2026 men's World Cup set to take place in North America until the issue of equal pay was resolved.
What's more, Procter & Gamble donated $529,000 to the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association and took out an advertisement in the New York Times urging U.S. Soccer to "be on the right side of history," per the AP.
Shanna McCarriston of CBS Sports broke down the class-action lawsuit the 28 members of the USWNT filed against the federation in March, noting it was filed under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The lawsuit alleged, in part, the women are paid less than the men even though they are consistently better on the field and spend more time playing deeper into tournaments because of that success. It also points to unequal promotion, playing conditions and travel conditions, pointing to the frequency in which the women are forced to play on turf as an example.
The lawsuit also pointed out the federation paid the men's team $5.375 million in World Cup bonuses in 2014 compared to the $1.725 million the women's team received in 2015. The women won the World Cup that year, while the men were eliminated in the round of 16.
The men did not even qualify for the World Cup in 2018.