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Equal pay talks between USWNT and USSF break down, trial looms

The U.S. Women’s National Team’s quest for a new labor agreement, and better pay for the reigning World Cup champions, has reached an impasse.

Mediation talks between the USMNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation broke down on Wednesday, paving the way for the two sides to go to trial in a federal court.

“We entered this week’s mediation with representatives of USSF full of hope. Today we must conclude these meetings sorely disappointed in the Federation’s determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior,” Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the USWNT said.

Levinson also said the players “eagerly look forward to a jury trial.”

U.S. Soccer also released a statement as well, saying they were hoping for more progress during mediation and that they still hope to come to a resolution without the need for a trial.

“We have said numerous times that our goal is to find a resolution, and during mediation we had hoped we would be able to address the issues in a respectful manner and reach an agreement,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, instead of allowing mediation to proceed in a considerate manner, plaintiffs’ counsel took an aggressive and ultimately unproductive approach that follows months of presenting misleading information to the public in an effort to perpetuate confusion.”

The USSF has been spreading information of its own. Late last month, The federation released figures that claim USWNT players make even more money than their male counterparts. The basis for the claim centered around the fact that the structure of the USWNT’s labor agreement provides a guaranteed salary to the team’s players, along with funding NWSL salaries as well, while USMNT players do not received guaranteed compensation, and MLS salaries are not funded by U.S. Soccer.

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe made the rounds on morning television on Thursday morning after the talks broke down. She appeared on both ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today” and basically said any discussion would have to start with equal pay or there would be no progress.

“We’re always open to hearing that conversation if they’re ready to have it,” Rapinoe said on the Today show. “That’s the only federation we can play for. We’re the only team that they have. So we’re sort of tethered together in that way. But at any point if they want to have a serious conversation and are willing to not only talk about paying us equally and valuing us in that way, but actually doing it and showing us that they’ll do it, our ears are always open.”

The U.S. Men’s National Team has shown its support for the women through .a statement of its own.

“The members of the United States National Soccer Team Players Association once again stands with the members of the world champion Women’s National Team in their pursuit of fair compensation for their work as professional soccer players. The USMNT players were not impressed with U.S Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro’s letter made public on Monday. The Federation downplays contributions to the sport when it suits them. This is more of the same.”

The fight for equal pay is nothing new for the USWNT, but it took center stage during their run to winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup, gathering a lot of support from fans, who chanted in favor of their cause during the team’s victory parade in New York City in July.

The two sides agreed to mediation after the World Cup and tried to keep the time and place of the negotiations under wraps. It was only revealed late Wednesday night that talks had been ongoing and that they had, in fact, broken down.

The next step for the USWNT is taking its fight to court. The players have already filed suit in a California district court and the 28 players listed on the suit are prepared for a trial, the team said in a letter to the Federation dated August 12

“For both parties, the risk of not resolving our disagreements over equal treatment that were not addressed either in bargaining or through the EEOC is too high,” the letter said. “U.S. Soccer’s reputation, sponsor relations, fan support and federal funding for the 2026 World Cup tournament are all at risk, and that risk continues should we not reach resolution. We have demonstrated that we can perform at high levels on the field even while pursuing equality off the field, but it is certainly not what we want to continue to go through with a new coach and the upcoming Olympic Games if a resolution is possible.

“While we are prepared to take our equal pay fight through a trial if necessary, we believe that both sides would benefit from an equal pay and equal working conditions settlement now.”

No court date has been set and neither has another round of mediation.


  1. Product your own wealth (higher ratings, sell jersey, higher gates etc….) and stop taking from those who product the income.

  2. Wow
    After reading that letter it is really hard to get behind the woman’s case for me. They are paying the top starts quite a bit of money to play in front of no one. Median attendance is 4,300 per game ( Portland draws a lot so avg higher ).
    I do think going back 10 years was intentional by USSF, as the woman’s money wasn’t as good as it is now…..but the payout should have been less then too, right ?

  3. I think the USWNT should focus on issues like playing surfaces, travel expenses, and so on. There is no way the USSF can defend giving the women inferior treatment with this. But from the facts that are out there, I just don’t see how the pay is so inferior to the men. You can’t just ignore that the USNT women get base salaries, benefits, and our national women’s league subsidized. If the women force USSF to give “equal pay” in the same way as the men receive it, then I would worry about the health of the NWSL, and of the majority of the players in it (most of whom aren’t USWNT players). If we can’t grow the NWSL, or worse if it goes under, then the future of US women’s soccer is in big trouble.

    • Yeah, the fact that the USSF supports and promotes women’s soccer to a level that no other national federation does can’t be overlooked.
      I’m all for them getting bank based on ticket/merch sales, etc. and certainly the same travel perks and playing on only the best playing surfaces. But the labeling of this as an “equal pay” fight has never sat well with me. It leads people not in the know to opine about things they don’t understand, and unfairly has dragged men’s players into something they shouldn’t have to answer to. “Well, they can win the World Cup and you can’t even qualify”…as if these things exist in the same bubble. American women have every advantage over female players worldwide. Their qualifying tournament can be sleepwalked through (and almost was…have we forgotten the near-disaster that was 2011 WC qualifying?), they almost never have to play in anything approaching unfriendly confines (or outside of America, really) and all the players play nearly exclusively stateside (no cross-Atlantic flights just to get to camp). Not to mention that at best you’re playing maybe 30 matches for club and country the entire year. The men have to keep their club form up in order to get call-ups. The women have a set percentage of contracted players that have to be (read: italics) called into every camp. Landon Donovan was cut from the WC squad and simply never called back in. Our best guy ever too. They had to get lawyers involved just to get a toxic player in Hope Solo out of the national team picture.
      That USWNT contract, it’s a pretty cush gig if you can get it.
      The thing is, at the end of the day, this “equal pay” fight isn’t about growing the women’s game, getting more eyes on women’s sport or anything like that. It’s literally about 28 contracted female soccer players getting a little more bank (more power to you) under the guise of being progressive…and in the end may hurt the overall cause more than it helps, particularly if it affects the growth of the domestic league.

  4. “We entered this week’s mediation with representatives of USSF full of hope.”

    Well, not exactly… Had they entered the mediation full of Hope Solo, the USSF would have been quivering in their boots and given them everything they wanted.

  5. USSF dragging this out because they have the stronger legal case for a number of reasons (the CBA is a case killer in my view, but there are other reasons) and time favors the defendant. The further we get from the World Cup, the more likely public interest will wane and we’ll be back where we were 4 years ago. Things will change if Congress ties funds for the 2026 WC to equal pay or there’s a change in leadership (and by that I don’t mean promoting Earnie to technical director or Jay Berhalter CEO).


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