Lawmakers to U.S. Soccer: Pay National Women’s Team What You Pay Men

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(Top L-R) United States' goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, midfielder Lindsey Horan, defender Becky Sauerbrunn, midfielder Rose Lavelle, forward Christen Press; (bottom L-R) defender Abby Dahlkemper, defender Kelley O'Hara, forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Julie Ertz, defender Crystal Dunn and forward Tobin Heath pose prior to the France 2019 Women's World Cup semi-final football match between England and USA, on July 2, 2019, at the Lyon Satdium in Decines-Charpieu, France. (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

A group of congresswomen on Wednesday called on the U.S. Soccer Federation to close the pay gap between male and female players on the U.S. national teams, saying the only thing the women’s squad should be “fighting for” is the world title or a gold medal.

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) sued U.S. Soccer in March over the pay disparities. A female player’s income is 38% of what her male counterparts earn, the House Democratic Women’s Caucus said in a letter to U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, signed by more than 50 members of Congress.

“... the USWNT has been forced to fight for equity and fairness off the field,” said the letter, which included signatures from Bay Area Reps. Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna and Mike Thompson. “... there is clear, ongoing institutionalized gender discrimination within the federation.”


The players argued in their lawsuit that they have faced “institutionalized gender discrimination” for years, which has led to smaller paychecks and worse overall treatment than their male counterparts. The union representing the members of the U.S. Men's National Team issued a statement in March supporting the women's team's efforts to be paid equally, NPR reported.

For winning the 2015 World Cup, the women’s team got $1.725 million — one third of the $5.375 million that U.S. Soccer awarded the men’s team, which lost in the Round of 16 of the Men’s World Cup in 2014.

The Guardian reported in late June that the U.S. women’s team had earned $90,000 in bonuses for reaching the World Cup quarterfinals (they're now set to play in the finals on Sunday), an amount that's six times less than the bonus structure their male counterparts get.

Unlike the men’s team, the women's squad has dominated international competition for decades. It is the reigning World Cup champion — its third title since 1991, a period during which it has finished in the top three in every single World Cup. In the Olympics, the team has won four out of the last six gold medals going back to 1996.

“These (pay) disparities are particularly questionable given that U.S. women’s games generated more total revenue than U.S. men’s games over the last three years,” the Democratic Women’s Caucus said.

More Coverage of the Gender Pay Gap

U.S. Soccer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. After the lawsuit was filed, Cordeiro said in an open letter: “U.S. Soccer believes that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay, and we strive to meet this core value at all times.”

“While we believe the current (collective bargaining) agreement is fair and equitable, we are committed to working with our USWNT players and understanding specifically where they believe improvement is needed,” he said.

The caucus asked U.S. Soccer to reply to a number of questions and to provide official documentation of the salary, bonuses and prize money for the men’s and women’s teams.

“The U.S. Soccer Federation should work to correct course and close the wage gap so that the only thing women athletes are fighting for is the world title or a gold medal. Instead, the message sent to women and girls is that their skills and accomplishments are of lesser value,” the caucus said. "The lack of parity must end."

In late June, U.S. Soccer and the Women's National Team tentatively agreed to begin mediation after the World Cup ends,  The Wall Street Journal reported.