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USWNT fight for equal pay goes beyond paychecks

There are tangible differences in how the women's team is treated by its employer compared to the men's team.

Since the U.S. Women's National Team won another World Cup title over the weekend, the world has been hearing more about the soccer team's fight for equal pay.

But that "Equal Pay, Equal Play" fight goes beyond paychecks and annual salaries. There are tangible differences in how the women's team is treated by their employer compared to the men's team.

Both the women's team and the men's team have the same employer: U.S. Soccer. 

In a lawsuit filed in March of this year, the women's team laid out their argument for receiving pay equal to their male counterparts:

  • The women's team played 19 more games than the men's team.
  • U.S. Soccer controls the surfaces the teams play on (grass, turf) for home matches. From 2014 to 2017, the women played 62 home matches with 13 being on artificial turf. The men played 49 matches with only one on artificial turf. The lawsuit alleges artificial surfaces can lead to career-threatening injuries.
  • During the same years, U.S. Soccer arranged for natural grass to be installed temporarily over turf for eight men's matches, including at three venues where the women's team also played but did not put grass down.
  • In 2017, U.S. Soccer chartered flights for the men's team at least 17 times, but not once for the women's team.
  • The lawsuit says the former president of Soccer United Marketing acknowledged the women's team had been under-marketed, which players claimed lessened the potential profitability.

The team's argument is also founded on the ways the women are required to perform the same job duties as the men:

  • Be available for training and all games requested by U.S. Soccer.
  • Maintain a high level of competitive soccer skills and physical conditioning.
  • Not use of illegal or banned substances.
  • Serve as a spokesperson for the team and U.S. Soccer and promote games.
  • Participate in media interviews.
  • Participate in autograph sessions.
  • Travel nationally and internationally.
  • Play on the same size field, use the same size ball, play the same duration of matches and use the same rules as the men.

Since the men's and women's teams play a different number of games and have separate collective bargaining agreements with U.S. Soccer, comparing their salaries and bonus structures can be challenging. But with four World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, the women have been undeniably more successful than the men.

The Women's National Team Player's Association previously proposed a revenue-sharing model where player compensation would increase in years where U.S. Soccer derived more revenue from women's team activities. If those revenues decreased, player compensation would be less.

U.S. Soccer rejected this model.

According to CBS News, a Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia,) introduced a bill that would block federal funds for the 2026 men's World Cup until U.S. Soccer gives equal pay to both teams. The U.S. will be a co-host for the 2026 World Cup

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