The U.S women’s soccer team have been dealt a crushing blow after a federal judge rejected their claims that they had been underpaid relative to the U.S men’s team due to gender discrimination.
The ruling, delivered by Judge R. Gary Klausner, comes 10 months after chants of ‘Equal pay! Equal pay!’ erupted among a nearly 60,000 strong crowd after the U.S women’s team won the World Cup last July.
Klausner sided with the players’ employer, the US Soccer Federation, which argued the claim of unequal pay should be dismissed. The judge denied the women’s team had been systematically underpaid in comparison with their male counterparts.
In the dismissal, Klausner pointed to differences in the structure of the men’s and women’s contracts, which had been agreed to in collective bargaining.
“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 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.”
Spokesperson for the players, Molly Levinson, said the decision was shocking and disappointing. She impressed the players would appeal the decision as soon as possible.
“We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender,” Levinson said in a statement.
“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.”
We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY.— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) May 2, 2020
Klausner said the team’s other claims of unequal treatment, including travel conditions, medical staff and training equipment can continue. A trial is scheduled to begin for these claims on June 16.
Sport columnist for The Washington Post Sally Jenkins wrote “all you have to know about Klausner’s ruling is that it leads with and lingers on the men’s national soccer team and what it doesn’t get.”
For now, Klausner has abruptly ended a years-long battle for equal pay that has seen the players in the US women’s team skyrocket to international prominence as trailblazers for gender equality in sport.
The players involved in the lawsuit make up the most successful women’s soccer team in the world, having won four World Cup titles – a staggering feat in comparison to the US men’s team that did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
As player Becky Sauerbrunn said,”If you know this team at all you know we have a lot of fight left in us. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy, change never is.”
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