US women’s national team demands equal pay
This past few weeks, 28 of the US women’s national football (soccer) team have begun legal proceedings against their own federation over the issue of equal pay with their male counterparts.
They are suing the US Soccer Federation after years of what they call “institutionalized gender discrimination”. Star players like Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe were named on the lawsuit filed to the United States District Court in Los Angeles. The suit says that female players earned $15,000 for "being asked to try out for the World Cup team and making the team roster" in 2013 through 2016. On the other hand, men earned $55,000 each for making it to the World Cup team in 2014.
This legal action is just another step in the fight for equality and more opportunities for the women’s national team. The discrimination not only has affected the amount of money the women have received compared to their male counterparts but also in other areas. Over the years there have been strong campaigns from players and activists to increase the funding and reduce the discrimination that the women’s team receives. These campaigns focused on everything from chartered flights and not playing on astroturf pitches, to the setup of how the teams train and the medical treatment they get.
The players and the federation agreed to a new settlement in 2017 through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who alleged wage discrimination, arguing that the men’s national team unjustly earned more than the women's. The terms of the settlement were never made public but it is thought that it increased base pay, bonuses and increased support and leave for pregnant players.
However, the US women's players maintain that they receive less pay from the federation even though they are required to play more games than the men's team and win more matches.
Frustrated by a lack of progress on their wage discrimination complaint, the EEOC granted the players a right-to-sue letter which has brought about this lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation. The US women’s team is the world's top-ranked team and the big favourites to win this summer
Women's World Cup in France, which would bring about their fourth title in eight previous tournaments. The country's men, on the other hand, have been doing considerably worse by comparison as they are ranked 25 in the world and failed to qualify at all for the 2018 World Cup in Russia last year.
Megan Rapinoe stated that “We believe it is our responsibility, not only for our team and for future U.S. players, but for players around the world — and frankly women all around the world— to feel like they have an ally in standing up for themselves, and fighting for what they believe in, and fighting for what they deserve and for what they feel like they have earned.”
The lawsuit was filed on 8th March, which is International Women’s Day. As the need and fight for equal pay go on and high profile cases from exceptional athletes and sports stars continue, it will only shine more light on the crucial disparities and inequality that still exist in society today.