US Soccer Claims It Pays Women More Than Men, Women Players Say That’s ‘Utterly False’

US Soccer claimed that the US Women’s National Team is paid more than the Men’s National Team amid an equal pay lawsuit filed by the women players.

US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said in a letter Monday that the women’s team earned $34.1 million in salary and bonuses between 2010 and 2018 while the men earned $26.4 million. He said the numbers did not include benefits that only women players receive nor the “unprecedented investments” the organization made in the women’s program.

The letter comes amid a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by all 28 members of the women’s team. The two sides have agreed to begin a mediation process in the coming days.

“In the weeks ahead, we’ll focus on preparing for mediation and resolving this matter in the best interests of the [women’s national team] and U.S. Soccer,” Cordeiro wrote. “I want you to know that U.S. Soccer is committed to doing right by our players, and I’ve been encouraged by the public comments from players expressing their desire for a cooperative approach. I remain optimistic that we can find common ground.”

ESPN reported that the numbers do not include money from FIFA for World Cup bonuses. When including that money, men earned $41 million while women earned $39.7 million.

US Soccer says they should not be held responsible for the inequity in FIFA prize money, according to ESPN, which noted the winner of the last year’s men’s World Cup earned more than the prize pool for all 24 teams in the women’s World Cup.

Women’s team says US Soccer is lying:

Women’s team spokeswoman Molly Levinson called the letter a “sad attempt” to “quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress.”

"The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally. This is why they use words like 'fair' and 'equitable,' not 'equal,' in describing pay,” Levinson said. "The numbers the USSF uses are utterly false, which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women's players' compensation. Any apples-to-apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women."

"The USSF fact sheet is not a 'clarification.' It is a ruse," Levinson said. "Here is what they cannot deny: For every game a man plays on the MNT, he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination. For the USSF to believe otherwise is disheartening, but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay. If the USSF cannot agree to this at the upcoming mediation, we will see them in the court of law and the court of public opinion."

The men’s team also released a statement hitting back at Cordeiro’s letter.

"The USMNT players were not impressed with US Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro's letter made public on Monday,” the statement said. “The Federation downplays contributions to the sport when it suits them. This is more of the same from a Federation that is constantly in disputes and litigation and focuses on increasing revenue and profits without any idea how to use that money to grow the sport. One way to increase profit unfairly is to refuse to pay national team players a fair share of the revenue they generate."

Who’s right?

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that women’s games have generated more revenue since 2015 than the men’s team, although this is further complicated by the fact that game revenues (which are mostly made up of ticket sales) are just one of the revenue streams that teams bring in. US Soccer says that between 2009 and 2019, the women’s team produced a net loss of $27.5 million while the men’s team produced a net loss of $3.1 million, according to ESPN.

“Comparing compensation between the two teams is difficult because the pay structure is based on different collective bargaining agreements. For example, players for the women’s team have a base salary while the men are paid based on matches and performance,” The Associated Press reported. “US Soccer said it pays the women’s national team players a base salary of $100,000 per year, and an additional $67,500 to $72,500 per player as a salary for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League. The women also have healthcare benefits and a retirement plan. Conversely, players on the men’s national team are paid by training camp call-ups, game appearances and through performance bonuses. The federation says the men have the ability to earn higher bonuses than the women.”


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