The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Defends World Cup Champion Title—and Their Right for Equal Pay
By Alanna Sakovits
The United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) has won three Women’s World Cup titles, including the most recent 2015 championship, and remains the top-ranked team in the world. However, as the team begins the 2019 World Cup in France—which they kicked off on June 11, 2019 with a 13-0 win against Thailand—they continue their fight for equal pay at home.
In March 2016, current World Cup players Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn, as well as former team member Hope Solo, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against their employer, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), alleging that they were being discriminated against on the basis of gender by being paid substantially less than their male counterparts on the U.S. Men’s National Team. All members of the team have since joined together to file a lawsuit in federal court to assert these discrimination allegations. See Alex Morgan et al. v. United States Soccer Federation, 19-cv-01717 (C.D. Cal. 2019). The Complaint alleges, in part, as follows:
Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their team and participate in international competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts. This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players – with the female players, in contrast to male players, becoming world champions.
The USSF, in fact, has admitted that it pays its female player employees less than its male player employees and has gone so far as to claim that “market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men.” The USSF admits to such purposeful gender discrimination even during times when the WNT earned more profit, played more games, won more games, earned more championships, and/or garnered higher television audiences.
The USWNT’s fight for a second consecutive, and fourth total, World Cup title may have broader implications for social justice and gender equality. As their fight for the World Cup title and gender equality continues, V&A will be rooting them on in both!