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Judge rules against US women’s soccer team in equal pay case

Los Angeles (AFP) – A federal judge dismissed the United States women’s soccer team’s bid for equal pay on Friday, rejecting claims the players had been underpaid in a crushing defeat for the reigning world champions. 

In a 32-page ruling, Judge Gary Klausner of the US District Court for Central California in Los Angeles tossed the women’s claim of pay discrimination, ruling in favour of the United States Soccer Federation.

Klausner did allow the women’s case for unfair treatment in areas such as travel, housing and medical support to proceed to trial however.

But the judge said the equal pay claims — the central plank of the case — had been dismissed because there was evidence the women had turned down an offer to be paid along the lines of the US men’s team.

“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 the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” Klausner wrote.

“Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA (collective bargaining agreement) worse than the MNT CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure,” he said.

The women’s claims against the USSF for discriminatory practices in use of flights, hotel accommodation and medical support can proceed. 

A trial on those issues has been set for June 16 in Los Angeles.

– ‘Shock, disappointment’ –

The US women were left stunned however by their defeat on the pay issue. The women had been seeking back pay of $66 million under the Equal Pay Act.

A spokeswoman for the players reacted with dismay following Friday’s ruling.

“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” spokeswoman Molly 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.”

The increasingly acrimonious lawsuit had taken a dramatic turn in March, when a filing by lawyers for the federation argued that US men’s team players required a “higher level of skill based on speed and strength” than the women.

The filing triggered outrage amongst the women’s players while influential sponsors such as Coca-Cola voiced disgust at the remarks.

USSF President Carlos Cordeiro later resigned following the uproar, with prominent US women’s team star Megan Rapinoe accusing the USSF of “blatant sexism” in its legal filings.

The US women, who clinched back-to-back World Cup wins with victory at last year’s finals in France, had based their claim for backpay in the disparities between prize money distributed by FIFA at the men’s and women’s World Cups.

Germany’s men won $35 million for their victory in the 2014 World Cup while France earned $38 million after triumphing in Russia in 2018.

The United States women, victors in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, earned total prize money of $6 million over the two tournaments — a difference of $66 million.

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  1. Azer

    May 3, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Regardless of this decision, the USWNT plays better soccer than the USMNT. Forget about the leagues NWSL & MLS, focus on the national team and the quality of play. The men are an embarrassment to watch. The ladies on the USWNT are also role models for young girls all across the country and around the world.

    • USWNT Knuckleheads

      May 4, 2020 at 11:12 am

      Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Not sure who you are or what you are about, but the fact you seem to always want to bash the USMNFT to “validate” your point and your supposed love for the USWNFT, it is disingenious. 😛

    • Just the truth

      June 8, 2020 at 12:04 pm

      “the USWNT plays better soccer than the USMNT.”
      Are you trying to be funny? That same women’s team was beaten by a boy’s under-15 club team.
      Let me rephrase that to make it more understandable–they were beaten by a team of 14-year-old boys.

  2. Dad

    May 2, 2020 at 9:27 pm

    the competitions are not the same, the leagues and teams are not the same. It is much easier to win a World Cup on the women side than in the men side

  3. Dad

    May 2, 2020 at 9:25 pm

    I will never pay the same ticket price for a women game. The quality is not the same

  4. USWNT bobbleheads

    May 2, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    Bravo! 👏 Bravo!! 👏👏Bravo!!! 👏👏👏

    Finally someone has put a stop to this shennenigans started by the likes of Rapinoes, Hope Solo and the “big superstars” they think they are when in the scope of overall football, they are simply a nuisance entertainment. Imagine how much fuss they would be creating if they were Brazilians with American stupidfactomentality competing against Brazilian Football Team??

    In 1990, no one cared about them and just because they “won” 4 “World Cups” they believe their own hype?? Hilarious, but bring them whinning ones back to planet Earth.

    Bravo! Common sense has prevailed on the main issue.

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