US Soccer and the Women’s National Team: What is Happening Now?
By The Capital Sports Report Staff
The United States Women’s National Team’s victory at the Women’s World Cup in 2019 was exciting and inspiring for many. However, success has not been a stranger to the USWNT. The team is the most successful women’s national soccer team in the world, with four World Cup victories and four Olympic gold medals to its credit.
Despite that impressive victory and history, the team has become embroiled in a dispute with the United States Soccer Federation regarding pay.
Before the 2019 World Cup, twenty-eight women on the USWNT filed a lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges gender discrimination on the part of the United States Soccer Federation and asks for pay equal to that of the Men’s National Team. They claim a violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Federation claims that this cannot be true as the women play under a collectively bargained agreement signed in 2017. The women are hoping favorable public opinion following their World Cup victory may give them the push needed to end this conflict, which has been ongoing for several years.
As the women’s and men’s national teams are paid on different models, comparisons can be difficult and have lead to each side making claims to favor their cases.
In an attempt to resolve the lawsuit, the sides met in mediation in early August 2019. Going into mediation right after the World Cup may have made it a little more difficult, with the USWNT riding a high of winning with and public sentiment firmly in their court.
The mediation attempt failed relatively quickly. The women claimed that the Federation was not interested in real negotiation, while the Federation made the claim that the women were paid fairly compared to revenue generation and in terms of total compensation when compared to the men.
With the sides seeming to be in a stalemate and failing to mediate the issue, the case will go to trial on May 5, 2020. Indeed, the women have filed a motion to expand the lawsuit to include more plaintiffs, making it essentially a class-action-style suit.
As of September 30, 2019, this motion was disputed by the Federation, with the Federation saying that four players on the team earned more than the highest-paid male player between 2014 and 2019. They say this makes the women’s soccer team lack the grounds to make the lawsuit into a class-action lawsuit.
However, litigation is not expected to move quickly, with the initial ruling potentially not coming until 2021, with appeals lasting into 2022. Public or even political pressure may lead to a faster resolution. Indeed, a number of prominent American politicians have threatened possible repercussions if the issue is not resolved quickly.
It is also possible that the two sides decide to return to mediation, either officially or unofficially. A new collective bargaining agreement will need to be reached in 2021, regardless, lending some urgency.
This legal situation deserves a close eye. Not only is it about a very popular group of players, but it is also seen by many as a referendum. Other women’s teams are watching closely, as are women’s rights groups promoting the closure of what they see as a pay gap defined by gender.
With a team filled with talented women in the balance, sports fans across America hope the issue is resolved quickly and satisfactorily.
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