USWNT Reaches Settlement with U.S. Soccer About Equal Working Conditions


Stephanie Wang, Staff Writer

More than a year after the prestigious U.S. National Women’s Team (USWNT) launched a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) on the grounds of gender discrimination concerning player pay and treatment, the USWNT finally reached a settlement on Dec. 1 with the federation regarding unequal working conditions.

In compliance with the settlement, U.S. Soccer has agreed to provide the USWNT with an equal number of charter flights, equally acceptable hotel accommodations, and “equally acceptable venues and field playing surfaces,” as well as adhere to the newly established “Senior National Team Professional Support Policy.”

The settlement marks a huge—albeit delayed—success for the USWNT.

“We are pleased that the USWNT Players have fought for—and achieved—long overdue equal working conditions,” said Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the plaintiffs.

According to Levinson, however, the settlement didn’t include anything about equal pay, which is the main focus of the team.

“We remain as committed as ever to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve,” Levinson said. “Our focus is on the future and ensuring we leave the game a better place for the next generation of women who will play for this team and this country.”

While the settlement doesn’t address the USWNT’s compensation concerns, it is a huge step forward for the team’s lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, filed last year on Mar. 8 to the Los Angeles federal court under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs asked for equal pay and working conditions. They also asked for “institutional gender discrimination” that had “caused, contributed to, and perpetuated gender-based pay disparities” for players in “nearly every aspect of their employment” to be resolved.

However, although progress has been made toward equal opportunities between the women’s team and men’s team, the topic of equal pay is still at large, and it has long been a deeply divisive issue between the team and the federation. In July 2019, a couple of months after the lawsuit had first started, the USSF president at the time, Carlos Cordeiro, released an open letter, claiming that data over the past 10 years had shown that the USWNT was actually paid more than the USMNT, which USWNT representatives denied as “utterly false.” Cordeiro later resigned on Mar. 12 of this year after backlash from fans and sponsors in response to language in court filings that were seen as demeaning to female athletes and female athletics as a whole.

In May, the USWNT faced its first major setback in its case against U.S. Soccer when a federal judge in California ruled against their claims of gender discrimination in regard to pay.

The team “intended to file their appeal to the Court’s decision which does not account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job,” Levinson said.

In the latest episode of the USSF’s resistance against the USWNT’s demands for equal pay, however, the current USSF president and former USWNT player herself, Cindy Parlow Cone, said that the team’s request for $66.7 million would be extraordinarily taxing on the federation in a conference call held shortly after the announcement of the settlement.

“This would be devastating to our budget and to our programming,” Cone said. “But given COVID, not to be overly dramatic, but it would likely bankrupt the federation.”


Photo courtesy of NGSCSPORTS.COM