Five stars from the World Cup-winning US women’s national team have accused the US Soccer Federation of wage discrimination in an action filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo maintain in the EEOC filing that they are paid nearly four times less than their male counterparts on the US men’s national team, based on US Soccer’s 2015 financial report. The filing was announced Thursday in a statement from the law firm representing the players.
‘‘The numbers speak for themselves,’’ Solo said in the statement. ‘‘We are the best in the world, have three World Cup Championships, four Olympic Championships, and the USMNT get paid more just to show up than we get paid to win major championships.’’
The union representing the players is currently involved in a legal dispute with US Soccer over the terms of their collective bargaining agreement. The federation filed a lawsuit this year seeking to clarify that its contract with the US Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association runs through the Rio Olympics until Dec. 31. The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in 2013 can be terminated at any time. That case is pending.
Jeffrey Kessler, one of the attorneys representing the players, claimed the tenor of the negotiations over the CBA created the need for the women to act in hopes of ending what they say is the ‘‘discriminatory and unfair treatment’’ they have endured for years.
‘‘The reality is that this team is more valuable to the USSF than the men’s team has been. That’s what the facts show,’’ Kessler said. ‘‘And they would be justified in asking for more than the men are receiving. But the first step that they are seeking is equal treatment.’’
US Soccer said in a statement, ‘‘We are committed to and engaged in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that addresses compensation with the Women’s National Team Players Association, to take effect when the current CBA expires at the end of this year. US Soccer will continue to be an advocate on the global soccer stage to influence and develop the women’s game and evolve FIFA’s compensation model.’’
The top players on the women’s team are paid about $72,000 a year, along with bonuses, to play in a minimum of 20 exhibitions per year, the EEOC complaint says. Conversely, the men are paid per match, with a minimum of $5,000 a game, and additional payments based on the opponents’ rankings and results.
The women have a potential to earn $99,000 if they win all 20 exhibitions, while their male counterparts would earn $100,000 minimum for appearing in the 20 games before the opponents and outcomes are figured in, and possibly as much as $263,320 a year if they win all of their games.
The US women won the World Cup last year in Canada, earning a total of $2 million. The US men’s team earned $9 million the year before at the World Cup in Brazil, where they were KO’d in the round of 16.
‘‘We think very highly of the women’s national team and we want to compensate them fairly, and we'll sit down and work through that with them when all of this settles down,’’ USSF president Sunil Gulati said Thursday night.
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton weighed in on Twitter: ‘‘Wouldn’t want to face these women on the field or in the courtroom. Every woman deserves equal pay.’’