US women’s football team accuse national federation of ‘ruse’ amid pay row

Updated: 27/05/2023


The USA beat the Netherlands 2-0 to win the World Cup for a fourth time in July

The US women's football team has accused its federation of using a “ruse” by saying they earn more than the men's national side.

The US women's team (USWNT) began legal action against the US Soccer Federation (USSF) over equal pay in March, four months before retaining the World Cup.

On Monday, the USSF said the women's team had been paid more than the men's over the last decade.

But a USWNT statement said the numbers were “utterly false”.

“This is a sad attempt by USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress,” it added.

“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.”

In an open letter, USSF president Carlos Cordeiro said he had commissioned an “extensive analysis” of US Soccer's “financials” over the last 10 years, which stated:

  • Women's national team-contracted players have a guaranteed base salary of $100,000, while the men have no guaranteed salary and only get paid for training camps, games and bonuses.
  • US Soccer also pays WNT-contracted players playing in the National Women's Soccer League a base salary of $67,500-$72,500, while men playing in the MLS receive no pay from US soccer.
  • WNT-contracted players receive guaranteed benefits, for example health, dental and vision insurance, retirement plan, maternity leave, injury protection, childcare assistance.
  • Men's national team players get larger bonuses but are guaranteed nothing and receive no benefits.

His letter added that the men's and women's teams have “different pay structures” because each team “chose to negotiate a different compensation package” with US Soccer.

However, the USWNT said it had “refused” its request for an equal compensation structure – calling it the “very definition of gender discrimination”.

“The fact is the women's team requested the same compensation structure as the men have, so they would be paid equally for equal performance,” the statement continued.

“USSF refused, ordering lower compensation in every category for the women's team in a pay for performance structure.

“That is patently unequal pay. The USSF fact sheet is not a “clarification”. It is a ruse. Here is what they cannot deny.

“For every game a man plays on the MNT he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher.

“That is the very definition of gender discrimination. For the USSF to believe otherwise is disheartening but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay. If the USSF cannot agree to this at the upcoming mediation, we will see them in the court of law and the court of public opinion.”

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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