On Friday, a judge ruled against the United States women’s soccer team in its lawsuit against U.S. Soccer for wage discrimination. The ruling states that the women’s team has been paid more—both in totality and on a per-game basis—than the men’s team.
In addition to the judgment on wage discrimination, the court found insufficient evidence for discrimination with regards to the women’s team’s playing conditions. The women’s team had argued that its disproportionate number of games played on artificial turf was pretext for unlawful discrimination.
In the summary decision, the judge cited the women’s team’s collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer that prioritized guaranteed money over a “pay-to-play” structure favored by the men’s team. According to the summary, the sides had negotiated for a pay-to-play structure for the women’s team beginning in May 2016, and reached a compromise in 2017 that meant the women’s team would have 20 contracted players for the year, each receiving a base salary of $100,000. The deal also included bonuses for friendlies.
“The history of negotiations between the parties demonstrates that the WNT rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT, and that the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for other benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” the summary reads. “Accordingly, Plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA worse than the MNT CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play structure when they themselves rejected such a structure.”
The women’s team’s spokeswoman, Molly Levinson, said in a statement that they plan to appeal this decision.
“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” Levinson said. “We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender. We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them. We will appeal and press on. Words cannot express our gratitude to all who support us.”