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The USWNT Players Just Proved That Equality Isn’t Good Enough for Them

The U.S. women’s national soccer team scoffed Wednesday at being offered the exact same contract as the men’s team and vowed to continue the fight for “equal pay.”

SO WHAT

The American women really want equity not equality.

THE OFFER

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced Tuesday it had offered identical proposals for a new collective bargaining agreement to the unions of the women’s and men’s national teams, ESPN reported.

“This proposal will ensure that USWNT and USMNT players remain among the highest paid senior national team players in the world, while providing a revenue sharing structure that would allow all parties to begin anew and share collectively in the opportunity that combined investment in the future of U.S. Soccer will deliver over the course of a new CBA,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement.

  • The federation stressed its commitment to a collective bargaining agreement that takes “the important step of equalizing FIFA World Cup prize money,” a major sticking point for the U.S. women.

THE RESPONSE

The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association responded the next day by dismissing the federation’s proposals as “PR stunts.”

  • “USSF’s PR stunts and bargaining through the media will not bring us any closer to a fair agreement,” the players’ union tweeted. “In contrast, we are committed to bargaining in good faith to achieve equal pay and the safest working conditions possible. The proposal that USSF made recently to us does neither.”
  • The union’s executive director, Becca Roux, said in a separate statement that the federation’s offer fell “short of addressing our issues.”

The federation fired back in a tweet Thursday mocking “LFG,” a documentary released earlier this year about the women’s team’s years-long campaign for higher pay, which they have framed in feminist terms.

THE FIGHT FOR “EQUALITY”

In a 2019 class action lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, the women’s national team claims its players are victims of gender discrimination, which has allegedly resulted in poor working conditions and them getting paid less than the U.S. Men’s National Team players.

  • It’s hard to directly compare the teams’ pay because of the differing nature of their respective agreements with the federation.
  • Basically, though, the women negotiated for a guaranteed salary with smaller bonuses while the men opted for a “pay-to-play” compensation structure, which means they receive higher bonuses but only when they make the team.
  • The women’s team has pointed to its unparalleled success – four women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals – as well as increasing stadium attendance, revenue and television ratings for the women’s game to argue its players are underpaid.

Meanwhile, the U.S. women’s on-field exploits and off-field activism have made them media darlings who can count on sympathetic coverage of their cause.

THE REALITY CHECK

But success in the court of public opinion hasn’t translated to the courtroom.

  • In May 2020, the team was dealt a major setback when the judge in their case rejected most of their major claims.
  • Dismissing arguments that the women were underpaid compared to the men, R. Gary Klausner of United States District Court for the Central District of California granted U.S. Soccer’s motion for summary judgment.
  • Klausner wrote that the federation had shown the women earned more than the men “on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis” during the time period at issue.

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