On Thursday afternoon, five members of the USWNT filed a discrimination complaint against U.S. Soccer alleging that their pay was not equal to that of the men's national team, despite the women generating $20 million in revenue for U.S Soccer in 2015.
Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, all members of the 2015 World Cup-winning team, signed the complaint, though many were quick to point out that the complaint was filed on behalf, and with the support of, the entire program.
The women are seeking to increase their level of pay closer to that of the USMNT players. Currently the women make, on average, approximately 1/4 what the men make. Late Thursday U..S. Soccer issued a statement expounding on their prior brief response.
“Our efforts to be advocates for women's soccer are unwavering. For 30 years, we have been a world leader in promoting the women's game and are proud of the long-standing commitment we have made to building women's soccer in the United States and furthering opportunities in soccer for young women and girls around the world. This includes leading the successful campaign to introduce women's soccer in the Olympics in 1996, the inclusion of prize money for the Women's World Cup, and the establishment and support of the National Women's Soccer League, which is now in its fourth year of play.
We are committed to and engaged in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that addresses compensation with the Women's National Team Players Association, to take effect when the current CBA expires at the end of this year. U.S. Soccer will continue to be an advocate on the global soccer stage to influence and develop the women's game and evolve FIFA's compensation model.
After three unsuccessful attempts by private entities to maintain a women's professional league, U.S. Soccer committed to investing in and administering the National Women's Soccer League to ensure our women's players would have an ongoing professional environment in which to continue their careers. As part of this, Women's National Team players are paid full-time salaries and other compensation.
Development initiatives also remain a top priority for U.S. Soccer and we are continuously looking for innovative ways to facilitate player development at all levels. Since 2012, U.S. Soccer has employed a Women's Technical Director and invested in full-time coaches for the Youth Women's National Teams. Just recently, we announced the launch of a Girls' Development Academy Program in the fall of 2017 to further assist in maximizing female youth player development across the country. We are committed to continuing to elevate women's soccer in the future at all levels.”
This will be an uphill battle for U.S. Soccer to win. While they have done what their statement says, Sauerbrunn took to Twitter to ask the following question:
"Where in this statement do they address, or even attempt to refute, the pay discrepancy?"
That's the crux of the matter. While women's soccer at all levels has boomed, the top U.S. women in the sport earn far less per match and on balance than their male counterparts, despite the women dominating the world soccer stage while the men struggle.
The fearless five who signed the complaint are striking while the iron is hot and the numbers are irrefutable. U.S. Soccer will likely need to bridge the gap considerably if they wish to see this play out anywhere other than in the court of public opinion.