In a filing with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released Thursday morning, five players on the United States women’s national soccer team have accused the U.S. Soccer Federation of wage discrimination, citing the fact that despite being far more successful than their counterparts on the men’s squad, they’ve been paid a lot less to compete.
In the process of filing the suit, which involves some of the USWNT’s biggest stars (Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo), one member of the squad in particular had some pretty harsh words about the men’s team lack of triumphs in recent memory.
If you guessed it was Hope Solo, well then, you’re 100% correct.
The union representing the players is currently involved in a legal dispute with U.S. Soccer over the terms of their collective bargaining agreement. The federation filed a lawsuit this year seeking to clarify that its contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association runs through the Rio Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.
The numbers speak for themselves,” Solo said in a statement. “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup Championships, four Olympic Championships, and the USMNT get paid more just to show up than we get paid to win major championships.”
Attorney Jeffrey Kessler, one of the attorneys representing the players, claimed that the state of the negotiations over the CBA created the need for the women to act in hopes of ending what they say is the “discriminatory and unfair treatment” they have endured for years on behalf of all female athletes.
“While we have not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we are disappointed about this action,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement Thursday. “We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.” (via)
While I’m all for equality, you have to admit that saying “the USMNT get paid more just to show up than we get paid to win major championships,” is pretty damn harsh. Throw the men’s team under the bus, why don’t you. Disregard the fact that the competition they face is more fierce, the attendance at their games is markedly higher, as are the television ratings, and that their jersey sales and endorsement contracts blow the women’s team out of the water, all while failing to understand that those are the things that translate to higher wages.
At the end of the day, especially in sports, it’s the fair market that determines what these women are making. If people felt their product was on par with the men – all success aside – then they’d be getting compensated for it (both by consumers and marketers/broadcast networks).
Does it suck that Hope Solo is only making $65,000 a year to play her heart out for the women’s team? Of course, that blows, and common inclination would tell you she does deserve more. But insofar, that hasn’t been the reality of the market.
That might be a tough pill to swallow for the USWNT, but hey, that’s the truth. Economics 101. If I was on that team, I’d just be happy to say I play soccer as a job and make a livable wage doing it.