United States Women's National Team (USWNT) players have collectively refuted a claim from the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) that they earn more than their male counterparts in the men's national team, describing it as a 'ruse' and labelling the numbers as 'utterly false'.
28 member of the USWNT squad, including superstars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, began legal action against their national federation in March, citing gender discrimination in relation to equal pay and working conditions. Five had filed a discrimination complaint in 2016.
The ongoing lawsuit, filed with the US District Court in Los Angeles, highlighted that 'female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts', despite performing the same role for a single common employer, USSF, and playing/winning more games, winning trophies, garnering higher TV audiences and making more profit.
The USWNT have since won the Women's World Cup for a record fourth time to further strengthen their argument, while their general popularity has been underlined by Nike reporting that the 2019 home shirt is the most sold jersey of all time on Nike.com in a single season.
USSF president Carlos Cordeiro spoke this week of a desire to close the pay gap, describing the World Cup winners as 'an inspiration', but defended his federation by declaring, "[The men's and women's national teams] have different pay structures, not because of gender, but because each team chose to negotiate a different compensation package with U.S. Soccer."
That 'choice' of a different compensation package has been refuted by the USWNT.
Cordeiro, who said no that 'expense was spared' at the World Cup in terms of facilities, flights and support, also claimed that an 'extensive analysis' of the last 10 years of U.S. Soccer's financials has shown that the women's team have been paid more by the federation.
"...separate and apart from any prize money awarded by FIFA - U.S. Soccer has, over the past decade, paid our Women's National Team more than our Men's National Team in salaries and game bonuses," the national soccer chief insisted.
The attached fact sheet stated that each USWNT player has a contracted base salary of $100,000-per-year, with the men having no such guaranteed salary, instead getting paid for training camp participation, games and game bonuses. U.S. Soccer additionally pays USWNT players at NWSL clubs a further $67,500 - $72,500 salary.
It acknowledges that men, despite no guaranteed salary, 'can earn larger bonuses'.
U.S. Soccer also stresses that it gives USWNT players benefits not received by the men, which includes "...fully-paid health, dental and vision insurance; severance; a 401(k) retirement plan; paid maternity leave; guaranteed injury protection; and assistance with childcare."
Setting out a hypothetical scenario of both teams playing and winning 20 friendlies in a given year, U.S. Soccer claims that the women would be paid a $307,500 salary for combined USWNT and NWSL salaries, while the men would command $263,333 in game bonuses only.
The amount for women includes a club wage, something the USWNT take strong issue with.
A strongly worded statement from USWNT spokeswoman Molly Levinson has hit out at Cordeiro and the USSF, labelling it a "sad attempt by USSF 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...The numbers 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 statement goes on to refute Cordeiro's claim that the two national sides are paid differently because they negotiated separate terms, with Levinson's statement insisting that it is a 'fact' the USWNT asked for the same deal - "USSF refused, offering lower compensation in every category for the women's team in a pay performance structure. That is patently unequal pay.
"The USSF fact sheet is not a 'clarification'. It is a ruse.
"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 out determination to obtain true equal pay."