NEW YORK – The 28 members of the US women’s national soccer team filed suit on Friday against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) for gender discrimination, marking a new phase in a dispute that goes back years.
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Los Angeles, accuses the USSF of “institutionalized gender discrimination.”
Besides complaining that they are paid substantially less than their male counterparts, the women say USSF discriminates against them in terms of scheduling matches, the quality of physical training and coaching and in travel accommodations.
“A comparison of the WNT (Women’s National Team) and MNT (Men’s National Team) pay shows that if each team played 20 friendlies in a year and each team won all 20 friendlies, female WNT players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while ... male MNT players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game,” the suit says.
This is not the first time the women’s team has challenged the USSF: in 2016 five players presented a wage-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which subsequently authorized the aggrieved athletes to sue the federation.
One of the original five complainants, former goalkeeper Hope Solo, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF last August.
The plaintiffs in the suit filed Friday are seeking to be certified as a class, which would give them the right to represent any of the dozens of players that have been part of the national team since Feb. 4, 2015.
The 28 plaintiffs include some of the biggest stars of international women’s soccer, such as Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan. They are seeking several millions of dollars in damages, according to The New York Times.
The US squad is the most successful in international women’s soccer, with three Women’s World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals, eight CONCACAF Gold Cups, and 10 Algarve Cups.
Their counterparts on the US men’s team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that,” Morgan said. “We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility.”
The women’s team is preparing to defend its title this summer at the 2019 Women’s World Cup tournament in France
The filing of the lawsuit coincided with the observance of International Women’s Day.