Closing The Gap

US women's soccer team and Soccer Federation agree to enter mediation in pay gap suit

Alex Morgan #13 of USA enters the pitch before the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between Sweden and USA at Stade Oceane on June 20, 2019 in Le Havre, France.
Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup is underway and teams from around the world are fighting for the championship title — as well as equal pay.

In 2016, five U.S. women's players filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and in March, 28 members of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) for gender discrimination and unequal pay.

Now, The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, reports that USSF and the USWNT have "tentatively agreed to pursue mediation after the World Cup ends."

Lindsey Horan of USA celebrates scoring her team's opening goal with team mates during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between Sweden and USA at on June 20, 2019 in Le Havre, France.
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

When the USWNT's lawsuit was first filed, the USSF released a statement claiming that any differences in pay are "based on differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex."

But on June 17th, The Journal reported that U.S. women's soccer games had actually generated more revenue than U.S. men's games over the past three years. Based on an analysis of USSF financial statements obtained by the Journal, from 2016 to 2018, women's games generated approximately $50.8 million in revenue, compared with $49.9 million for men's games.

This modest difference in revenue is in stark contrast to the pay gap between players on the women's and men's national teams.

According to the USWNT's lawsuit, if the men's and women's teams won each of the 20 non-tournament games they are contractually required to play, women's team players would earn a maximum of $99,000 ($4,950 per game), while men's team players would earn $263,320 ($13,166 per game). The suit also states that from 2013 to 2016 women players earned $15,000 for making the national team while the men earned $55,000 in 2014 and $68,750 in 2018.

At the World Cup level, the pay gap is even larger. During the 2018 FIFA Men's World Cup in Russia, 32 teams competed for $400 million in prize money. The champions, France, took home $38 million.

This year, 24 women's team are competing for $30 million in prize money — just 7.5% of the men's World Cup prize.

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