Women’s Team Suing U.S. Soccer Federation For Gender Discrimination

The USA Women's National team poses before a game against Brazil
Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

Friday is International Women’s Day, and the top ranked U.S. women’s soccer team used the occasion to file a federal class action lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination.

According to CNN Sport, all 28 members of the team are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The suit has been filed in U.S. District Court in California.

The lawsuit states that the players feel they have suffered from years of institutionalized gender discrimination, as well as lower pay than their male counterparts. They have also said that the facilities they have to train in are far inferior, as well as their medical treatments being compromised by the discrimination.

It’s not the first time that the team has made a formal move to protest their working conditions. Just a few years ago, they filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). At the time, the EEOC was unable to get access to the women’s revenue, so they couldn’t follow through on the complaint. The result is that the team’s hand was forced into taking more drastic action to get the issue resolved.

“The pay structure was so skewed in 2015, the men’s national team earned $9 million for losing in the round of 16. The women earned only $2 million for wining the entire tournament,” the lawsuit states.

It further added that the federation “discriminates by paying the women less than members of the men’s national team for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT.”

Part of the complaint from the team is that the revenue attached to their side is not being made transparent. They want a clear explanation of exactly what revenue is paid to the team through sponsorships and the like to compare it with their personal salaries.

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The side has said they are prepared to be paid less than the men’s side if they are bringing in less revenue, but given that the organization refuses to disclose the revenue, the women are having to fight to find out. They also want their training facilities to be improved, arguing that regardless of the revenue they bring in, they should be treated equally to the men in that regard.

There has been some improvement in the women’s salaries in recent years, with the team able to renegotiate their contracts to include extra income for any public appearances the ladies made. Even then, they had to threaten a lawsuit to get that done.

The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association has stated that they are not part of the lawsuit with the team, but they are supportive of them in this cause to remove gender discrimination in the sport.

This latest lawsuit has been filed just three months before the women’s World Cup is set to kick-off in France, with the side looking to defend their title.