The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) has been accused of engaging in a "false narrative" regarding the pursuit of equal pay for U.S. women's national team players by the union representing the U.S. men's national team.
The U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association (USNTSPA) issued a strong statement Wednesday alleging discrimination by the USSF and criticising it for "resisting" equal pay:
"The Federation has been working very hard to sell a false narrative to the public and even to members of Congress. They have been using this false narrative as a weapon against current and former members of the United States Women's National Team.
"With our unions working together since 1999, the goal was always to secure for the women comparable gains in pay and working conditions. For more than 20 years, the Federation has resisted any concept of equal pay or basic economic fairness for the USWNT players. Historically, the Federation also refused to include in the women's CBA the same provisions as the men's with respect to air travel, hotels, etc. This is systematic gender discrimination that should have never happened."
U.S. Soccer issued a statement in response, per Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated:
Earlier on Wednesday, USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe responded to the statement, per The Athletic's Meg Linehan:
The USWNT started legal action against the USSF in March over equal pay. All 28 members of the squad filed the discrimination lawsuit under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The lawsuit stated that "female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts" despite having enjoyed superior performances on the pitch.
The USMNT failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, while the women's team won the 2019 Women's World Cup in France after a near-flawless campaign. The Stars and Stripes, playing in their third consecutive final, beat the Netherlands 2-0 to be crowned back-to-back world champions, claiming their fourth World Cup title overall.
The two sides agreed to enter mediation in June but talks subsequently broke down. U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter which argued the federation paid the women's team $34.1 million in salaries and bonuses from 2010 to 2018 compared to $26.4 million for the men's team, per Graham Hays of ESPN.
Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players involved in the lawsuit, described Cordeiro's letter as a "sad attempt by USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received," per Anne M. Peterson at the Associated Press.
The USNTSPA statement signs off by calling on fans to "support the players, not the Federation" and says supporters could withdraw support to the Federation's sponsors "until they do the right thing" and also "write to Congressional representatives" asking them to reform the federation.