In a lawsuit filed on Friday, all 28 members of the world champion U.S women’s soccer team accused the U.S. Soccer Federation of years of “institutionalized gender discrimination.”
In the suit, the players said they received inadequate support, worked in subpar conditions, and played (and won) more games than the men’s national team despite being paid substantially less money than the male players. Gender discrimination, the women’s team argued, impacted not only how they were paid, but also the medical treatment and coaching they received, the frequency and quality of their training, and even their travel arrangements.
The current escalation comes after a longstanding battle over equal pay between the national team players and the USSF. In 2016, five of the team’s top players — Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn — filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, asserting that women players were paid nearly four times less than their male counterparts.
After three years of inaction on the part of the USSF, the EEOC gave the women access to a right-to-sue letter in February. The players now hope to have their lawsuit granted class action status on behalf of all current or former players on the women’s national team since February 4, 2015. If the players win their suit and are awarded back pay and other relief, the settlement could potentially reach into the millions of dollars.
In April 2017, the team signed a new collective bargaining agreement with the USSF that reportedly increased their pay by more than 30 percent. While the agreement fell short of the player’s goal of equal pay, it was hailed at the time as a significant step forward. Now it will be up to courts to determine whether or not true equal pay — and treatment — will be realized.
Read the full story at The New York Times.