The United States women’s soccer team has filed an appeal against a ruling that dismissed their claims for equal pay, with star player Megan Rapinoe insisting nothing less than equality will be acceptable to the players.
The US women’s national team (USWNT) had been seeking $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act, but was dealt an unexpected setback when a judge dismissed their claims that they had been underpaid in comparison to men’s players, with the judge even stating the female players had been paid MORE.
District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner said the USWNT had been paid more than their male counterparts, both on an average per-game basis and on a cumulative basis.
But in a statement via their spokeswoman, the team announced its intention to appeal that ruling and continue their fight for equality.
“Equal pay means paying women players the same rate for winning a game as men get paid,” said spokeswoman Molly Levinson.
“The argument that women are paid enough if they make close to the same amount as men while winning more than twice as often is not equal pay.”
Star player Megan Rapinoe appeared on CBS to give her reaction to the ruling and said she was, “Shocked, to be honest, very shocked, and of course disappointed in this. I didn’t feel like the ruling really captured the heart of what we’re after.
“If we were under the men’s contract – which for the record we asked to be under the men’s contract, it was repeatedly refused to us, not only in the structure but in the total compensation – if we were under that contract, we would, you know, earn at least three times higher than we have.
“The argument that we’ve earned more over the course of the time we’re talking about than the men’s team really misses the whole point. We’ve won two World Cups, and we’ve won basically every game that we’ve played, darn near. So, to have that compared in that way and sort of missing the fact that we’ve outperformed the men’s team, just to say that we earned a little bit more money, I feel like really misses the heart of the gender discrimination suit that we brought against the federation.”
Rapinoe said the women’s team had repeatedly asked for the same contract the men’s players received from US Soccer, but were denied on each occasion and were left to negotiate the best deal they could.
“As I’m sure many women who have been in our position can sympathize with, we did ask for the same contract; we asked for the same amount of money, and repeatedly, and in no uncertain terms, (were) told that was not going to be possible,” she explained.
“So, for the ruling to sort of imply that we were peachy-keen with the original deal that we got and now that we’re understanding that we could have had more money and so we’re going back on it, is very frustrating for us.
“At the time, we felt like we negotiated the best deal that we were offered. But at the time it was clear as well that the money that we were going to be paid, or the money that we could even negotiate with, was going to be far less than what was being offered to the men.”
One potential way to end the legal battle could be for US Soccer to agree a settlement with the players and, even though Rapinoe said the players were rock-solid on what they want, she also said a settlement could potentially get them to where they want to be, although she made clear that nothing less than equality would suffice.
“I think that we’ve been very transparent about our openness to a settlement,” Rapinoe stated.
“Ultimately what we want to get to is something that’s fair and equal. And if that comes in the form of a settlement, we are definitely open to that. I don’t think anybody is dying to go into litigation or go to trial or go through a lawsuit. This has been a very arduous process for us as players, so we’re always open to that. But with that, we’re not going to settle; we know what we’re worth.
This year has been the craziest of them all. I don’t even really know how put into words how special this has been. The TEAM shook the world, and continues to. Yes the 23 players on the field, yes the coaching staff, and extended staff for the team, but the TEAM I’m talking about goes far beyond those who are lucky enough to wear the crest. The TEAM is our family, friends, girlfriends and boyfriends, wives and husbands. The TEAM is the thousands of fans who cheered for a team that asked them to care more about just the game of soccer, more than just themselves, more than just people who looked like them, more than just winning. For that, I am forever grateful. I think this World Cup win, and all the subsequent wins, both personal and team, feel so special because for the first time in a long time, it feels like WE ALL WON. And while I am truly honored to win @francefootball Ballon D’Or, I’d like to accept this on behalf of us ALL. WE DESERVE THIS. I am forever grateful to my beautiful family❤️ I know for a fact I wouldn’t be here with out you @sbird10 I love you forever 🦖
“We feel very strong in our case, even with this ruling. Maybe even stronger now. So, a settlement is always on the table. We’ll always have open ears to that. But it will be nothing less than equal.”
Despite that setback in the courtroom, the team did also enjoy success at the same hearing, with Judge Klausner also ruling that the players’ claims of inferior treatment with regard to travel, training provisions and accommodation should be upheld and the case taken forward to a trial, which is set to take place on June 16.
The USWNT captured their fourth World Cup in 2019, with chants of “Equal Pay!” ringing down from the stands as their high-profile battle with US Soccer was taken to global prominence.
And now it seems the players, whose determination to succeed on the field took them to far greater success than their male counterparts, are employing that same competitiveness as they look to fight back in the courts.