The United States Women's National Team have received support from the union representing their male counterparts in their ongoing legal dispute over equal pay. Elsewhere, coach Jill Ellis is to step down.
The women's team filed a lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF, US Soccer) in March but, on Monday, with the two parties soon due to enter mediation in an attempt to find a solution, the federation's president Carlos Cordeiro released a letter containing figures which suggested that female players were actually paid more than the men between 2010 and 2018.
However, the figures were immediately dismissed by a spokeswoman for the players involved as "a ruse" and "a sad attempt by USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT (US Women's National Team) have received," criticisms which have now been reiterated by the United States National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA), the labor organisation representing members of the men's national team.
"This is more of the same from a federation that is constantly in disputes and litigation and focuses on increasing revenue and profits without any idea how to use that money to grow the sport," the USNSTPA said in a statement released on Tuesday. "One way to increase profit unfairly is to refuse to pay national team players a fair share of the revenue they generate."
Citing the results of an extensive analysis of its finances over the past decade, US Soccer had said the women were paid $34.1 million (€30.6 million) in salaries and bonuses between 2010 and 2018, compared to only $26.4 million received by the men. What's more, the women also receive social benefits such as health care and a pension plan. However, comparisons are made difficult by the different pay structures involved.
While the women's national team players receive a basic salary of $100,000 per annum, for example, plus an additional $67,500 to $72,500 for players playing in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), their male colleagues are paid by training camp call-ups, match appearances and through performances bonuses – although exact figures were not provided.
The letter also stated that the totals do not include World Cup bonuses, monies paid by FIFA rather than US Soccer and which, if included, would show that the men earned $41 million in the given period compared to $39.7 million for the women.
"The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally," said the spokeswoman for the women's team, all of whom have been named as plaintiffs in the case. "This is why they use words like 'fair and equitable,' not 'equal' in describing pay."
"The only solution Mr. Cordeiro proposes is for fans to buy more tickets and watch more games on television," the USNSTPA said in support.
"He conceals the fact that the money will not go to USWNT players when sponsors pay the Federation to support the USWNT, fans buy tickets to USWNT games at ever-increasing ticket prices, and television companies pay more when more fans watch USWNT games. That is neither fair nor equitable."
The USWNT won a fourth World Cup title when they lifted the trophy in France three weeks ago, with fans at the final in Lyon audibly chanting "equal pay!" But the lawsuit filed against US Soccer alleges years of "institutionalized gender discrimination," and says travel conditions, medical care, marketing and training conditions are all less favorable for female players compared to their male counterparts.
Ellis to step down
In other news, women's national team coach Jill Ellis is set to step down after guiding the team to back-to-back World Cup triumphs. Ellis, who took over the team in 2014, has opted not to activate an option for an extension to her contract which would have seen her remain in charge until the Olympics in Tokyo next year.
Instead, she will remain with the team for a five-match World Cup victory tour - which gets underway against Ireland on Saturday - before taking up a role as a US Soccer ambassador.
In France this summer, British-born Ellis became the longest-serving women's team coach in terms of games coached, breaking April Heinrich's record. Overall, she has led the team to 102 wins in 127 games.
mf/pfd (dpa AFP)