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US women's team sues US Soccer over 'institutionalized gender discrimination'

09 March 2019

Members of the US women's national soccer team have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation citing gender discrimination, according to court documents.

In 2017, the United States women's national hockey team threatened to boycott that year's world championship but returned to the ice after settling a dispute with USA Hockey over wages and better benefits in line with their male counterparts.

The AFP news agency reports the lawsuit, filed with the US District Court in Los Angeles, stated: "Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in global competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts".

U.S. Soccer declined to comment on the pending litigation.

"Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in global competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts", the lawsuit said. The players cited figures from U.S. Soccer's 2015 finanical report to argue that, despite generating almost $20 million more revenue than the U.S. men's team that year, the women were paid about a quarter of what the men earned. The U.S. women's team, now ranked number one in the world, hopes to defend the World Cup it won four years ago. They are seeking equal pay and treatment, along with payment for lost earnings over the years.

"We wait on US Soccer to respond to both players associations with a way to move forward with fair and equal compensation for all US soccer players".

The players say they have faced ongoing "institutionalized gender discrimination" including unequal pay. The women earned more in profit and/or revenue than the men's national team for the period covered by the lawsuit, it said. The women's team reached a new collective bargaining agreement with the federation in 2017.

The agreement covered the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2020 Olympics. It alleges gender-based discrimination by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

A group of players filed a complaint in 2016 with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that alleged wage discrimination by the federation. When the deal was announced, CNN reported that in addition to better pay and bigger bonuses, the women received better hotel and travel accommodations and would be reimbursed for the years when their per diems were less than those of the men.

"Despite the fact that these female and male players are called upon to perform the same job responsibilities on their teams and participate in global competitions for their single common employer, the USSF, the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts", the lawsuit states. U.S. Soccer then canceled a match in Honolulu as its turf was "not suitable". The new lawsuit effectively ends that EEOC complaint, brought by Morgan, Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Carli Lloyd and former goalkeeper Hope Solo.

US women's team sues US Soccer over 'institutionalized gender discrimination'