USWNT Players Seeking $67M in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against U.S. Soccer

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2020

LYON, FRANCE - JULY 07: Carli Lloyd of the USA lifts the trophy as USA celebrate victory during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United State of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Players from the United States women's national team filed a motion on Thursday seeking almost $67 million in damages and back pay from the United States Soccer Federation as part of their gender discrimination lawsuit.

The original lawsuit was filed in March, four months before the USWNT won the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. A trial is set for May 5, but Thursday's motion called for judge R. Gary Klausner to rule in their favour without the case going to trial, per Yahoo Sports' Caitlin Murray.

U.S. Soccer also filed a motion on Thursday to have the case dismissed out of hand.

Lawyer and sports writer Miki Turner shared the motion on Twitter:

Miki Turner @turneresq

NEWS: Both the @ussoccer and @USWNT have filed motions for summary judgment in the equal pay lawsuit. The filings are major in that if the #USSF wins, the case would be dismissed. The #USWNT filing says damages are estimated at $66 million. #USWNT #USSF https://t.co/N6HcU3ZU5M

In March, 28 players filed the discrimination lawsuit under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

The Athletic's Meg Linehan relayed the full list of the players involved as well as the exact damages being sought from Thursday's motion:

Meg Linehan @itsmeglinehan

Two lists of players involved, list one is EPA class members (38 players), second one is Title VII class members (72 players). #USWNT https://t.co/DneT4J2hPa

In a statement, U.S. Soccer said the USWNT are paid differently to their male counterparts "because they specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract" and rejected a "similar pay-to-play agreement" the male players have.

It also said the USWNT's contract includes benefits USMNT players do not receive, including "guaranteed annual salaries, medical and dental insurance, paid child-care assistance, paid pregnancy and parental leave, severance benefits, salary continuation during periods of injury, access to a retirement plan, multiple bonuses and more."

Linehan relayed the whole statement:

Meg Linehan @itsmeglinehan

Statement from USSF, who have also hit tonight's filing deadline asking for the case to be dismissed. #USWNT https://t.co/njAWfdx0ao

She also provided a statement from the players' spokesperson, Molly Levinson, who said the pay-to-play structure offered to the USWNT was comprised of lower wages than the male players "in every instance":

Meg Linehan @itsmeglinehan

Statement from Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the #USWNT players, fresh from the inbox. https://t.co/u2cARyQN0i

Per Murray, the players' filing alleges U.S. Soccer's decisions surrounding the men's and women's respective compensation was based on "gender stereotyping."

During last year's World Cup, Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl noted that in the three years following the women's victory at the 2015 tournament, they generated more revenue for U.S. Soccer than their male counterparts:

Grant Wahl @GrantWahl

The secondary ticket market for #USA-#FRA is exploding. Women's World Cup TV audiences around the world are setting unexpected records. USWNT revenues exceeded USMNT's for 3 years. The message is clear for FIFA and national federations: Pay. The. Women. https://t.co/MrpQ6h1pWE

Per Murray, male players can earn up to $17,625 per victory and $5,000 per appearance, whereas the maximum a contracted USWNT player can earn for a win is $8,500. Contracted USWNT players don't receive appearance bonuses, while non-contracted players can earn a maximum of $4,250 per game.

In 2019, the USWNT were unbeaten in their 22 competitive matches and won 19 of them. The USMNT played 16 games, winning nine and losing five. 


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