USWNT, U.S. Soccer Filing Opposing Motions Seeking End To Dispute
The USWNT and the U.S. Soccer Federation both "sought to finally put an end to the ongoing wage discrimination dispute" that has lingered since '16 in a pair of "dueling motions filed late Thursday," according to Caitlin Murray of YAHOO SPORTS. The USWNT has "asked the judge to forgo a trial and rule in their favor, while U.S. Soccer has asked for the case to be dismissed." The USWNT is "seeking back pay" of nearly $67M, arguing that U.S. Soccer "made compensation decisions based purely on 'gender stereotyping,' citing depositions from former U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati and current President Carlos Cordeiro." Meanwhile, U.S. Soccer argues that USWNT players have been "paid under the exact structure they sought in collective bargaining negotiations and the players 'asked for a very different contract' that offered them benefits the men didn't get in their contracts." The motions "set the stage for a possible trial just as the USWNT will be preparing" for the Tokyo Games. U.S. Soccer "would probably be willing to settle this lawsuit." But the $67M is "eye-popping considering U.S. Soccer plans to spend" around $143M total this year and "lose about" $20M in the process. As such, a $67M hit "would be significant." Meanwhile, a key phrase that "pops up throughout the USWNT's case is 'market realities.'" They allege an attorney for U.S. Soccer "told them during CBA negotiations that 'market realities' meant the women can't be paid equally to the men." When the representatives for the USWNT "pushed back, another federation official allegedly doubled down on the 'market reality' preventing the women from earning the same bonuses" as the USMNT (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/20).
THE OTHER SIDE: ESPN.com's Jeff Carlisle notes U.S. Soccer's motion "centers on the fact that the men's and women's teams are represented by separate unions and thus have negotiated separate" CBAs containing "different terms, some of which were asked for by the Women's National Team Players Association." The USWNT CBA "includes six-figure salaries paid to USWNT players independent of whether they actually play, including guaranteed salary continuation during periods of injury; free medical insurance; paid child care assistance; paid pregnancy and parental leave; severance benefits and more." Additionally, U.S. Soccer stated that it "considers the duties performed by players on the men's team and the women's team as being different and that 'the law does not guarantee identical pay to men and women who perform different work in different jobs'" (ESPN.com, 2/21).