Members of the United States women’s national soccer team have announced their intention to continue their battle to be paid equally with their male counterparts by promoting the hashtag slogan “Equal Play Equal Pay” on social media, before games, and even on the field in the form of temporary tattoos. Earlier this year, the U.S. Soccer Federation sued the union representing the women’s national team in order to hold players to a previous collective bargaining agreement — a move that prevented players legally from going on strike before the Olympics. In March, five of the team’s most prominent players counterattacked, accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination and filing an official complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Men’s bonuses for playing on the national team are considerably higher than women’s, in part because women already earn guaranteed salaries from U.S. Soccer to play in the National Women’s Soccer League. U.S. Soccer says that higher payouts from FIFA for international tournaments, higher ticket sales and TV ratings also support paying male players more. According to the players and their lawyers, however, the women’s national team’s current pay does not accurately reflect either their popularity or their revenue-generating capacity.
Midfielder Megan Rapinoe has said that the players would rather not have ratcheted up their equal-pay campaign in the run-up to the Olympics, but that they were upset with the lack of “even a respectable response” in negotiations with U.S. Soccer and, in particular, with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati. “I’ve been to three meetings, flown six hours across the country and interrupted my rehab to come to New York, where he lives,” noted Rapinoe. “And he can’t come to one meeting.”
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