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USWNT players fill class-action lawsuit demanding equal pay


The U.S. Women’s National Team is stepping up their fight to end the perception of gender discrimination in American soccer. The team has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in a district court in Los Angeles

All 28 current members of the USWNT are included in the class lawsuit and they are seeking class action status to include anyone who’s been called into the team since February 4, 2015. The suit primarily calls for the team to be paid on the same level as their male counterparts. They are requesting back pay, damages, and other relief that, according to the New York Times, could total millions of dollars.

“Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts,” the lawsuit said. “This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players — with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions.”

“Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that. We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility. As players, we deserved to be paid equally for our work, regardless of our gender,” USWNT forward Alex Morgan said in a statement.

Their issues go deeper than just equal pay, however. The team also claims that gender based discrimination against the team affects the quality of coaching, training, medical treatment, travel, and where and how often the team plays.

This isn’t the first legal action the USWNT has taken against their employers. The team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016 calling for equal pay with the men’s team. That filing has more or less been ignored by the federation, as well as the EEOC, leading to Friday’s lawsuit.

There are several obstacles standing in the team’s way, even after filing this lawsuit. One issue will be the issue of FIFA determined bonuses for World Cup participation. Soccer’s global governing body doles out a bonus pool of about $400 million to the 32 men’s team participating in the World Cup and only $30 million to the 24 teams in the women’s tournament. This means the World Champion USWNT receives far less money than the team that finishes last in the men’s World Cup.

However, the filing notes that in 2015, when the USWNT won the Women’s World Cup, it generated $20 million more in revenue than the men’s team.

There is also the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association and U.S. Soccer, which settles issues like salary and other working conditions. That agreement went into place in 2017 and runs through 2021.

Still, the players remain steadfast in their fight for equal pay, and they are now taking their battle to court.


  1. Just like with the NBA and WNBA, the USWNT does not have the size, speed and power to perform the game like the USMNT does. Since sports is a form of entertainment, the men will always be more entertaining and with that, will be receiving more money. It is as simple as that.

    What the Soccer Federations have to do is to first have as many BIG Women’s Tournaments like the Men do, both Club and Nations. What the women have now in the U. S. is the W/C, Olympics, and a D-League with nothing much else that counts for anything!!!!!!!

  2. For purposes of comparing gross income of the MNT and the WNT: how much money did the MNT receive for participating in the WC in Russia last year?
    Please recognize the wit in this question

  3. Those WC women’s teams could not beat U17 academy boys teams. Their game is slow with lots of technical and tactical mistakes even at that WC level. They want some money that someone else earned.

  4. This is a complex topic and it really does open a can of worms. Do people get paid equal based on the job they perform? The impact of that job on the public? The revenue generated? Their overall talent level regardless of gender? Their ranking in the world according to their gender?

    I’d hate to be involved in this debate because there are no good solutions in this financial system. Someone is going to be left unhappy.

  5. The WWC is a massive spectacle that these women have dominated. Forget “earning it” surely they’ve created enough value for the federation that they deserve an equal cut of the pie. Lets also not remember that national payouts mean much more to these women who make vastly less then even the average MLS player

  6. pay players a cut of the percentage brought in by home games.
    then when the women complain they aren’t making enough remind them it is based on attendance.

      • Give them the same % of revenue that the men get. But it would be stealing to take a single cent from the revenue that the men’s games generate.

        Why people would want to steal from what someone else earns is beyond me.

      • US women’s soccer would start to fall apart because many (all??) the women in the squad receive annual base salaries from US Soccer plus bonuses for game appearances, etc. The men are paid on a per game basis, with no salary support. The salaries provide financial stability to the women that the men generally do not need. The absence of financial stability would, in all likelihood, greatly diminish the women’s player pool.

  7. I can see both sides. In any case, US soccer seems to have enough money to pay them enough to make this go away. But if they are going to demand full equality across the board in everything then it’s too much because the competitions are not the same.

    • I suspect SUM’s involvement here probably is meant to help the women’s league survive. I suspect if they pay the real madrid equivalent of women’s soccer according to revenue-generation, it could cause all the other minnows to bail, or not be able to participate. Fifa should break off women’s world cup into its own organization. SUM should also reveal whether the league will go belly up if the national team take all the dough

    • They get the ratings during the WC and the Olympics because they have been competitve. Otherwise no one would care ( See their league) If the men were as competitive in those tournaments the ratings for them would be exponentially higher. The Women are good because womens soccer is relatively new world wide. If the woman bring as much money as the men, pay them the same , if not, dont.

  8. From what I understand, the one year they cite when the women’s revenue was higher is when the USMNT were largely idle and the USWNT were in the middle of the WC. During a four year period the men grossly out perform the women in terms of revenue generated.

    Also, from Forbes is a good article helping to shed light on the revenue vs pay disparity:

    “The men’s World Cup in Russia generated over $6 billion in revenue, with the participating teams sharing $400 million, less than 7% of revenue. Meanwhile, the Women’s World Cup is expected to earn $131 million for the full four-year cycle 2019-22 and dole out $30 million to the participating teams.”

  9. Hmmmm….you know what would be a good motivator? You get paid by where you fall in the world rankngs. Rankings don’t always distinguish the quality of teams (as the USMNT show time and time again against the minnows of CONCACAF)…….but one thing is for sure it would sure be a motivator to Win games and a means to organize more scheduled international friendlies ???

    • Both the men and the women’s teams already receive bonuses each time they win a match and the schedule is set by FIFA. Yes, we can play outside the window as we do in January, but you don’t have your regular players for those games.

  10. So, let’s see how much money per match these two teams raise in match day revenue (I’m noting the USWNT plays in what seems every other weekend). Let’s also factor in ad revenue earned.

    THEN let’s talk equality.

  11. I applaud the women for taking this step, but I am concerned this may be fraught with unintended consequences.

    The men’s an women’s game operate in two different worlds in terms of fan support and revenue. The USWNT is a special case and this may not translate to other parts of the women’s game.

    Anyone who is involved with both a men’s and women’s team in professional stops will be forced to take a very hard look at the continuing a women’s professional team if the court deems that Teams / Businesses / Organizations must pay player’s equally even if the business model does not support it.

    As to unintended consequences, I remember when the law changed to require equality in collegian scholarships at Universities, which I support, non revenue men’s sports were hard hit. Ironically, many men’s varsity soccer teams were discontinued in order to make way for women’s programs that offset men’s revenue sports in Football and Basketball.


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