The United States Soccer Federation claims that the United States women's national soccer team does not deserve equal pay as the men's team because the teams' work isn't equal.
That's according to court filings relayed by ESPN's Graham Hays, who noted that the USWNT is seeking over $66 million in back pay and damages from the USSF.
"The overall soccer-playing ability required to compete at the senior men's national team level is materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes," the defense motion said in part, per Hays. "Such as speed and strength, required for the job."
The USSF also said that the level of competition between the men's and women's teams contributes to the pay differences.
"There is also evidence that MNT players face tougher competition, even on a relative basis," the defense motion stated. "There is a significantly deeper pool of competition in men's international soccer than there is in women's international soccer, even when assessing the issue in relative terms."
In response to the USSF's arguments, Molly Levison, a spokesperson for the women, said:
"This ridiculous 'argument' belongs in the Paleolithic Era. It sounds as if it has been made by a caveman. Literally everyone in the world understands that an argument that male players 'have more responsibility' is just plain, simple sexism and illustrates the very gender discrimination that caused us to file this lawsuit to begin with. So [I'm] looking forward to trial on May 5."
A trial between the USWNT and USSF is slated to begin May 5 in federal court in California.
Per Andrew Das of the New York Times, the USSF would like the lawsuit dismissed by a judge before the case hits trial.
R. Gary Klausner of the United States District Court for the Central District of California is the judge presiding over the case, and per Das, "both the players and U.S. Soccer expect him to allow the case to proceed to trial rather than pick a winner now on one side's terms."
Das also explained the USWNT's determination in seeking over $66 million, specifically:
"Saying the federation's actions were in clear violation of federal law, specifically the Equal Pay Act and Title VII, an expert hired by the players calculated an award of back pay and damages of $66,722,148, 'with more to be sought in punitive damages at trial in May.'
"The figure was reached, the players' expert said, by taking the women's performances, schedules and match results and calculating what they would have earned under the separate compensation schedule in place for the United States men's national team. Calculations like those, U.S. Soccer has long argued, are inaccurate — and unfair — because they include World Cup bonuses paid by FIFA, the sport's global governing body, for the far more lucrative men's World Cup."
Per ESPN, a total of 28 women's players are taking part in the lawsuit, which was filed under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.