In a case recently filed by the the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, five of the top-ranked female soccer players allege that the U.S. Soccer Federation has engaged in wage discrimination based on gender. They cite the fact that the U.S. women's soccer team regularly outperforms the male team, winning world and Olympic championships, but that the national governing body for the sport pays them nearly 40 percent less than their underperforming male counterparts. Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Rebecca Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan are all named members of the U.S. women's national soccer team taking part in the suit.
"I think the timing is right,'' said Lloyd on NBC's "Today" show. "I think that we've proven our worth over the years. Just coming off of a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. And we want to continue to fight."
"Female soccer players allege being paid nearly 40 percent less than their male counterparts."
'The numbers speak for themselves'
"The numbers speak for themselves," said Solo, a goalkeeper in the game. "We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships."
In response, the Federation cites the fact that the male teams generate more revenue and higher ratings than the female team, in spite of performing weakly compared to the female team. They dispute the accuracy of some of the revenue figures cited in the EEOC complaint, where the players allege that they generated more revenue that was projected, upwards of $16 million in 2015 when they were in the World Cup. The Federation claims this is "cherry-picking" data and that, on the whole, the women's team doesn't represent an equal share of revenue generated for U.S. Soccer.
Making things complicated for all parties is the fact that the Federation has long had dramatically different collective bargaining agreements with the respective male and female teams, with compensation tied to different metrics. On the male team, players can receive as a bonus $5,000 in the event of a loss in a friendly match or as much as $17,625 for a win against a top ranked opponent. A women team's player receives $1,350 for a win, but receive no bonuses in the event of a loss or tie.
"This is one of the strongest cases of gender discrimination I have ever seen," Jeffrey Kessler, the New York-based attorney for the players told USA TODAY Sports. "We have a situation here where the women have outperformed the men on the field and in every other way yet earn fraction of what the men are paid. This is a pretty open and shut case."
As the case enters the courts, it remains to be seen if the players can successful prove wage discrimination or if the numbers cited will be enough to win out.
The Meyers Law Firm did not provide representation in the aforementioned case.