By Zac Cornell
The U.S. Women’s National soccer team may be facing legal hurdles in their Equal Pay lawsuit with the U.S. Soccer Federation, but the court of public opinion and the actions of other countries are increasingly swinging in their favor.
On September 2, 2020, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) announced that its men’s and women’s national soccer teams will be paid equally going forward. “There is no more gender difference, the CBF is treating men and women equally,” said CBF chief Rogerio Caboclo.
As of January 2020, England’s Football Association has also committed to equal pay for men’s and women’s national soccer teams match fees and match bonuses.
Australia, Norway and New Zealand have all previously committed to paying men and women equally. Australia’s women’s soccer reached their landmark agreement with the Football Federation in Australia in November 2019. In addition to equal pay, the Australian female soccer players, known as the Matildas, also secured equitable conditions, coaching and operational support to their male counterparts.
In addition to other countries changing policies, public opinion is clearly behind women’s players. A record breaking 1 billion plus people tuned in to watch the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France according to FIFA, negating any arguments that women players can’t generate the same level of interest as men.
While the U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner dismissed the USWNT lawsuit of unequal pay in a summary judgment in May 2020, he did rule that the organization could continue with their lawsuit over unequal provisions for travel, accommodations and medical and training support. However the USWNT appealed his decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and are committed to their fight.
The Men’s team released a statement of support saying, “The USMNT players continue to stand with the WNT players in their efforts to secure equal pay. For a year and a half the USMNT players have made proposals to the Federation that would achieve equal pay for the USMNT and USWNT players. We understand the WNT players plan to appeal last week’s decision and we support them.”
But the USWNT may make faster progress on the public opinion track. Politicians, corporate sponsors and even Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and U.S. Soccer Federation vice president Cindy Cone have weighed in on the side of the USWNT. Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden tweeted after Judge Klausner’s ruling, “To the USWNT: don’t give up this fight. This is not over yet. To U.S. Soccer: equal pay, now. Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding.”
Fighting against equal pay is clearly tarnishing U.S. Soccer’s brand and can ultimately cost them more than the $66 million in damages that the USWNT was seeking. Let’s hope that the U.S. Soccer Federation will follow the lead of these other countries and resolve the issue of Equal Pay out of the courts.