Men’s soccer team backs women’s lawsuit for equal pay as female players score a spot in Olympic semi-finals

‘For more than 30 years, the Federation has treated the Women’s National Team players as second-class citizens,’ the US men’s soccer team wrote in a court filing

Nathan Place
New York
Friday 30 July 2021 19:46

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The US women’s soccer team has argued for years that it deserves the same pay as the men’s team. In an official court filing, the men’s team said it agreed.

“The United States Soccer Federation markets the United States Men’s and Women’s National Teams under the slogan, ‘One Nation. One Team,’” the US Men’s National Team wrote in an amicus brief on Friday. “But for more than 30 years, the Federation has treated the Women’s National Team players as second-class citizens.”

The scathing brief marks the first time the men’s team has gotten directly involved in the women’s team’s lawsuit, which contends that the US Soccer Federation has been unfairly underpaying them.

The women’s team is appealing the loss of that lawsuit last year, when a federal judge ruled that the women had agreed to a different pay structure than the men, and anyway were paid more than the men’s team overall.

In its amicus brief, the men’s team called that ruling “flawed” and “oversimplified”.

“The Federation has never offered or provided equal pay to the women, and the district court’s holding to the contrary cannot be squared with the facts,” the male athletes wrote.

The US Soccer Federation disagrees. Just last week, it released a statement reiterating its support for the 2020 ruling.

“In ruling in favor of US Soccer on the players’ pay discrimination claims, the District Court rightly noted that the Women’s National Team negotiated for a different pay structure than the Men’s National Team, and correctly held that the Women’s National Team was paid more both cumulatively and on an average per-game basis than the Men’s National Team,” the Federation wrote.

One of the two teams’ arguments for why the female players deserve better pay is that they have been so successful on the field. The women’s team has won multiple Women’s World Cups and Olympic gold medals, and after a penalty shootout on Friday, the team made it into the semifinals at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Judging by those successes, the men’s team wrote, the women’s team should be paid far more.

“A woman’s rate of pay is not equal to a man’s if the woman must consistently achieve better outcomes merely to get to the same place,” the team wrote in its brief. “If the women had won fewer games, or if the district court had analyzed a more representative period of the men’s performance as a point of comparison, the per-game disparity would have been obvious, glaring, and undeniable.”

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