NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. women’s national soccer team players pushed back in a court filing on Monday against claims by the U.S. Soccer Federation that some members earn more than their male counterparts, as they argued for class action status in the latest chapter of their closely-watched legal fight.
All 28 member of the U.S. women’s national soccer team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination in March in a lawsuit that included complaints about wages and working conditions.
Mediation between the two parties broke down in August, weeks after U.S. Soccer’s President Carlos Cordeiro said in an open letter that the organization has paid more to the women’s team than the men’s in recent years.
A week ago, the organization said it opposed the women’s players bid for class action status in their suit.
“Over the class period, the (Women’s National Team) has played far more games than the (Men’s National Team) and amassed a far higher win percentage, including earning two World Cup championships,” the suit’s plaintiffs said in Monday’s court filing. “This is the only reason why the four (Women’s National Team) class representatives were able to earn more total compensation than members of the (Men’s National Team).”
Those four players – Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Becky Sauerbrunn – would have earned far more under the men’s team’s pay rate policy, the plaintiffs argued in the filing.
A spokesman for U.S. Soccer said members of the men’s national team have the chance to earn larger bonuses, but they do not receive guaranteed money in their “pay-for-play contract structure.”
“Our men and women’s national teams have different pay structures, not because of gender, but because each team chose to negotiate a different compensation package with U.S. Soccer,” the spokesman said.
The U.S. women’s team successfully defended its World Cup title in July in France, defeating the Netherlands in the final. The team has four women’s World Cup titles, more than any other nation.
Players from the U.S. men’s squad threw their support behind their female counterparts in July and accused U.S. Soccer of not paying a fair share of generated revenue to national team players.
The dispute has attracted international attention, with numerous celebrities, athletes and politicians backing the women’s players amid renewed conversation over pay equity in the United States.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Tom Brown)