The U.S. women’s national team suffered a major blow Friday as a federal judge in Pasadena rejected the players’ claims that they were paid less than the men’s national team.
The team originally filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in March 2019, with 28 members of the team listed as plaintiffs.
The lawsuit alleges the U.S. Soccer Federation’s discriminated against women by paying them less than men “for substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT.”
However, Judge R. Gary Klausner wrote in his decision that members of the USWNT did not prove wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act because the women’s team played more games and made more money than the men’s team.
According to Klausner, the women’s team also rejected a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) where they could have played under the same pay structure as the men’s team in favor of a different CBA.
“This approach — merely comparing what each team would have made under the other team’s CBA — is untenable in this case because it ignores the reality that the MNT and WNT bargained for different agreements which reflect different preferences, and that the WNT explicitly rejected the terms they now seek to retroactively impose on themselves,” Klausner wrote.
“This evidence is insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact for trial,” Klausner wrote.
A spokesperson for the players said they would appeal the decision.
“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision,” Molly Levinson said in a prepared statement. “But we will not give up our hard work for equal pay. We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender. 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.”
US Soccer released a statement saying it looks forward to “working with the Women’s National Team to chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world.”
“US Soccer has long been the world leader for the women’s game on and off the field, and we are committed to continuing that work to ensure our Women’s National Team remains the best in the world and sets the standard for women’s soccer,” the statement read.
Last year, the team won the Women’s World Cup in France. Following the historic victory the team embarked on a five-game victory tour across the country that kicked off in the Rose Bowl when the team faced Ireland.