On Wednesday morning, five members of the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) filed a federal complaint against the U.S. Soccer Federation citing the disparity in wages they receive compared to their male counterparts. Co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn filed the complaint along with goalkeeper Hope Solo, forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Megan Rapinoe.
In their complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the USWNT cited several different exampled of wage discrimination.
For every game played, the women get paid an average of $3,600 while the men make an average of $5,000. For every win, the women receive a bonus of $1,350 while the men receive a bonus of $8,166 per win, more than six times higher than the bonus the women receive.
If the USWNT finishes second place in the World Cup, the team receives a bonus of $32,500 that is then divided amongst the team. If they finish in first place, they receive a bonus of $75,000.
For the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT), they receive a $260,417 bonus for finishing second place in the World Cup and a $390,635 bonus for winning the World Cup.
In addition, each team receives a daily allowance (also known as a "per diem") while traveling in order to help cover expenses such as meals. While playing in the United States, the USWNT receives a per diem of $50 while the USMNT receives a per diem of $62.50. When traveling internationally, the per diem for women is increased to $60 while the men’s per diem increases to $75.
Historically speaking, the USMNT has always been mediocre while the USWNT continues to dominate the sport year in and year out. Over the last four years, the women have won gold in the Olympics and won the World Cup, all while gathering the support of most of the nation in the process.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” said goalkeeper Hope Solo to the New York Times. “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships.” Solo then added that the USMNT “get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.“
U.S Soccer officials did not sit back quietly and forcefully responded to the claims on Thursday night. They cited figures that show the men’s national team produced revenue and attendance that were nearly double of what the women’s team produced. In addition, U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said that television ratings were “ a multiple” of what the women’s team attracts.
In the complaint, the players cited recent financial reports to show that the USWNT has become the main source of revenue for U.S. Soccer over the last few years. The players stated that they exceeded revenue projections by as much as $16 million in 2015 as their World Cup run set television record and a victory tour packed stadiums across the United States and set new attendance records.
U.S. Soccer officials disputed those figures and argue that the women and their lawyers picked out a successful year in order to draw a broad conclusion.
While the USMNT may produce better revenue figures than the USWNT does currently, the gap is closer now than it ever has been. The USWNT has hit an unimaginable stride and shows no signs of slowing down. Just last month, Alexi Lalas, a soccer analyst for Fox Sports, said that the USWNT is capable of fielding two teams with their current roster and having them both rank in the top 5 in the country.
In the coming weeks, an EEOC investigator assigned to the case will seek information from both sides of the investigation in regards to pay. If either side ignores the requests, the records can be subpoenaed by the EEOC. The requested information will most likely consist of a report from both sides on pay along with full disclosure regarding computation of pay and how the figures were calculated.
Investigations of this nature usually last an average of about ten months. In this situation, however, expect the investigation to last well past ten months due to the allegations being heavily based on pay data.
While the investigation begins, check out some of the USWNT's highlights from their most recent, significant championship, the 2015 Women's World Cup: