‘Pay them triple’ U.S. soccer men’s union backs women’s team’s call for pay equity
United States' Megan Rapinoe holds the trophy after winning the Women's World Cup final soccer match between U.S. and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, France, July 7, 2019. Claude Paris / AP

The U.S. men’s national team player’s union publicly challenged the U.S. Soccer Federation to do right by all its players: Significantly increase the pay of the women’s team, and stop low-balling during contract negotiations.

Clean and simple.

The players union for the women’s national team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF last year and is scheduled for trial May 5 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

In their March 6, 2019, court filing, women players said: “The USSF has utterly failed to promote gender equality… it has stubbornly refused to treat its female employees who are members of the WNT (women’s national team) equally to its male employees who are members of the MNT.”

As it stands, the women’s team lawsuit was granted “class-action” status two months after the group filed a motion for class action certification to include all women called up to the national team over a multi-year period, in addition to the 28-players originally listed.

The class-action signaled the court’s rejection of USSF’s claim that many of the players named in the lawsuit had earned more than the top-earning male player over the same period.

The women’s team ratified a collective bargaining agreement with USSF in April 2017 which will run through 202, whilst the men’s contract expired in 2018.

For the men’s teams, their public statement and challenge is a departure from their typical approach regarding union negotiations with the USSF.

What changed?

How the USSF chooses to present its narrative to the public and Congress, “they have been using this false narrative as a weapon against current and former members of the United States Women’s National Team.

“The women’s 2017-2021 deal is worse than the men’s 2011-2018 deal,” said the men’s union in its Wednesday statement. “The federation continues to discriminate against the women in their wages and working conditions. … What we believe should happen is simple. Pay the women significantly more than our recently expired men’s deal. In our estimation, the women were due at least triple what our expired deal was worth in player compensation.”

The union went on to say the USSF also wants to keep their pay at the same level as found in their expired contract.

“It’s a desperate attempt to cover up the fact that what they did to the women in 2017 is indefensible,” the statement added. “The federation insisted the women sign a 2017-21 deal that was worse financially than the men’s soon-to-expire 2011-18 CBA that had been negotiated six years earlier…. “the correct comparison should be between what the women got with their 2017-21 deal and triple what the federation agreed to pay the men in 2011 or whatever the men negotiate in their new CBA that will be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2019.”

Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the women’s players class-action lawsuit, released a statement on behalf of Megan Rapinoe: Our great hope is that 2020 will be the year of equal pay. We are grateful for the support of our male colleagues, and also for the overwhelming solidarity from millions of fans and sponsors around the world who have stood with us to fight USSF’s discrimination.

“Achieving equal pay is so much bigger than our team and our playing fields — women in workforces everywhere deserve equality now.”

The men’s union encouraged all fans to let USSF sponsors know they will not support or buy any products until the “Federation starts doing the right thing and gives the women a new CBA that pays a fair share of the gate receipts and that television and sponsorship revenue to the players,” and asked letters be sent to Congress calling on them to reform the USSF.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.