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US Soccer says men's team carries 'more responsibility' than women's team amid fight for equal pay

Federation also argued a 'higher level of skill' is required by male players

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Tuesday 10 March 2020 19:52 GMT
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US Soccer says women's team has less responsibility than men's (Getty)
US Soccer says women's team has less responsibility than men's (Getty)

US Soccer has argued that the US Women’s National Team does not deserve the same pay as their male counterparts because the male athletes have “more responsibility” within the sport.

According to court documents filed in the equal pay trial and obtained by BuzzFeed, lawyers for US Soccer have argued that: “The job of a [men’s national team player] carries more responsibility within US Soccer than the job of a [women’s national team] player, from an Equal Pay Act standpoint.”

The federation’s lawyers cite TV viewership numbers, with the MNT averaging more than three times as many viewers per game since 2017, resulting in “matches watched on television by many millions more people than the WNT”.

The documents also state that the job of a male player requires a “higher level of skill” based on “speed and strength” than required by a WNT player.

According to the court filing, US Soccer said it is not “a sexist stereotype” to “recognise the different levels of speed and strength required for the two jobs,” as the WNT argued, but rather, “indisputable science”.

Since filing the lawsuit after winning their fourth World Cup title in France, members of the USWNT including Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan have faced questioning by lawyers over whether they are as strong or fast as players on the men’s team, BuzzFeed reports.

In addition to equal pay, the USWNT is asking for $67m in back pay for past prize money for past and future World Cups.

On Saturday, United States Soccer Federation (USSF) president Carlos Cordeiro blamed the inability to reach an agreement over back pay for the lack of resolution.

According to Cordeiro, who outlined the reasons in an open letter, there have been numerous attempts by US Soccer to meet with the women’s national team, but they have been declined.

"It is not reasonable or fiscally sound for US Soccer to make up the gap," Cordeiro wrote. "It would seriously impair our ability to support our mission and invest in these other critical developmental areas."

In response to the letter, USWNT player Megan Rapinoe criticised Cordeiro’s decision to release it a day before the women’s team played its second game of the SheBelieves tournament.

"We're trying to prepare for the Olympics and win this tournament, and be as good as we can be," Rapinoe said, according to CNN. “Now we have to put effort towards this. You know, pull the media team, the lawyers and everybody out on Saturday.

"Not the nicest move I would say. I'm not sure it really achieved what it was intended to. I don't know."

The Independent has contacted US Soccer for comment.

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