The U.S. women’s soccer team is taking legal action against the U.S. soccer federation over equal pay and working conditions in a gender discrimination suit.
The 28 players (some of the most accomplished female soccer players in the world) said the discrimination affects a variety of things including paychecks, where and how often they play, how they train, the medical training and coaching they receive, and how they travel to matches.
The suit comes three months before the Women’s World Cup begins in France, but this isn’t the first female sports team to demand equality in recent years. In 2007, Venus Williams demanded equal prize money for women in tennis. In 2017, the U.S. women’s hockey team announced they would boycott the world championship if their wages weren’t increased. W.N.B.A. players face similar discrimination with pay, but have yet to file a suit, instead taking to social media and TV interviews to address the pay gap.
Other female soccer players in the worldwide soccer community are taking a stand. Ada Hegerberg—recognized as the best soccer player in the world after being the first woman to win the Ballon d’Or—announced she will not play at the Women’s World Cup this year.
Megan Rapinoe, one of the team members involved in this suit, said of the legal action, “I think to be on this team is to understand these issues. And I think we’ve always—dating back to forever—been a team that stood up for itself and fought hard for what it felt it deserved and tried to leave the game in a better place.”
The gender discrimination suit comes after a long battle, first privately and now publicly by the women’s players. They argue they have to play more games than the men, which they historically win more of and, yet, still receive less pay.
In fact, the women’s team is a three-time world champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist, yet struggle to receive the same benefits as men.
Granted, there are different bargaining agreements between the men’s and women’s teams. The men are only paid when they make the team and are paid higher game bonuses when they play for the United States, while women have guaranteed salaries, but smaller match bonuses.
The U.S. women’s team gender discrimination suit is a continuation of complaints from three years ago. After many years of inaction and lots of frustration on the women’s side, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finally allowed them to sue.
Despite being allowed to file the suit; the women’s team still has hurdles to jump. Their collective bargaining agreement doesn’t allow them to strike to push their case forward until it expires at the end of 2021.
This setback will not keep the women’s team down for long.
Rapinoe said, “We very much believe it is our responsibility not only for our team and for future U.S. players, but for players around the world—and frankly women all around the world—to feel like they have an ally in standing up for themselves, and fighting for what they believe in, and fighting for what they deserve and for what they feel like they have earned.”
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