Womens’ Soccer In Fight to Equal Rights

Womens’ Soccer In Fight to Equal Rights

Giuliana Carmosino

The United States Women’s soccer team has four World Cup titles under their belt. They perform seamlessly together on the field and are seen as the most successful international women’s soccer team in the world. It seems as though the only rough patch that these women face is off the field, with the insane pay gap between the men and women. The women took these concerns to a lawyer and set up a lawsuit against the States Soccer Federation, Inc. This is called the USSF which is the employer of both the female and male soccer players who are playing for their respective national teams. 


The Lawsuit 

These women decided to fight for equal pay. They brought the claim that there was unequal pay and gender-based discrimination by the USSF. Judge R. Gary Klausner, who is a judge for the Central District of California was put to this case. Klausner approved a settlement in December during the last hearing of this case. The deal calls for charter flights, hotel accommodations, venue selection, and staff support for the USWNT equal to that of the US men’s national soccer team (USMNT). Later on in the case, he began deciding a motion for the summary judgment. He decided to throw out the primary equal pay and discrimination claims that were made by the plaintiffs (WNT); This led things to continue as they have been. 


The Pay Gap

To truly understand why Klausner ruled the way that he did we need to look at the legal reasoning, as well as the difference in pay structures between the men and the women’s national teams. Both teams are subject to collective bargaining agreements, which are also known as CBA’s. The men’s CBA was a “pay to play” contract where the majority of their money came from performance bonuses. Some of these performance bonuses include things such as qualifying for the World Cup, winning the World Cup, and playing in certain games; this meant that there was no guaranteed compensation. The Women’s National Team CBA had guaranteed compensation and fringe benefits. The women got things such as severance pay, child care assistance, pregnancy pay, injury protection, and insurance benefits. The main difference between the two teams’ CBA’s is the performance bonuses. One example of this is the profit that could be made by both sides if winning the World Cup. If the women won they would only be able to make about 216,000 dollars while the men would be able to make a whopping 1.1 million dollars. The minimum salary for a player in the NWSL was around 16,538 dollars in 2019, while on the other hand, the Men’s Major League Soccer  (MLS) salary minimum was 70,250 dollars. 


Playing Conditions 

The women’s soccer team is forced to play on turf (artificial grass) which can lead to more injuries. Male soccer games are played on premium grass fields that are upkeep frequently. To break it down, injuries in the upper and lower extremities and torso occur more frequently on artificial grass than they do on grass. Knee injuries occur about 40 percent more often when playing on an artificial surface. Many women players filed a complaint about this to FIFA, but they turned these requests down. 


As of today, women’s teams all over the world are constantly fighting for equal pay on and off the field. They are continuing to pull out results and play at a very high level, and they are hoping to see big changes in the equality between these genders going forward, hopefully starting with equal CBA contracts. They are trying to constantly make changes in the women’s game. #equal play equal pay