The president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, the organization being sued by the women’s national soccer team over an equal pay dispute that has made national headlines and broken into the mainstream consciousness, said in an open letter released Monday that over an 11-year period the women’s team has generated a net loss of $27.5 million.
The statement, obtained by TMZ Sports, is addressed to “Friends, Colleagues and Supporters of U.S. Soccer.”
Carlos Cordeiro, the Federation’s chief, said that from 2009 to 2019 – “a timeframe that includes two Women’s World Cup championships” – the U.S. women’s players earned a gross revenue of $101.3 million at an average of $425,446 per game.
The men, on the other hand, brought in $185.7 million over 191 games. They averaged $972.147 per game.
“More specifically,” Cordeiro added. “WNT games have generated a net profit (ticket revenues minus event expenses) in only two years (2016 and 2017). Across the entire 11-year period, WNT games generated a net loss of $27.5 million.”
Cordeiro averred that the women’s team’s lawsuit has “contributed to an important and necessary national discussion about equality.” Still, in a “fact sheet” produced following an “extensive analysis” of the Federation’s financials from the past 10 years, U.S. Soccer laid out a case that largely refutes the claims made by the women’s team in its lawsuit.
For example, the “widely-reported claim that our women’s players currently earn only 38 cents for every dollar earned by our men is false,” U.S. Soccer said.
“This claim is based on out-of-date numbers that do not reflect what our women’s players actually earn today,” U.S. Soccer added in its statement.
Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the U.S. Women’s National Team, responded Monday to Cordeiro’s letter by denying most of its substance.
“The numbers USSF uses are utterly false which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women’s players compensation,” Levinson said, according to TMZ Sports.
“Any apples to apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women. The fact is the women’s team requested the same compensation structure as the men have, so they would be paid equally for equal performance,” Levinson added. “The USSF fact sheet is not a ‘clarification.’ It is a ruse.”
The USWNT gets political, starring Megan Rapinoe
The U.S. women filed a lawsuit against the Federation in March, but following the team’s July 7 victory at the 2019 Women’s World Cup – and the media spotlight shone on star players like Megan Rapinoe – the topic of gender discrimination in sports became a nationwide talking point.
Appearances on primetime TV and spats with President Donald Trump soon after followed for Rapinoe.
During an appearance on “The Rachel Maddow Show” earlier this month, Rapinoe doubled-down on a case that she and her teammates have been making for awhile now: That they have earned the same pay and status as men, it’s time for that to be recognized.
However, where that claim has fallen short, the women have appealed to the principles of social justice, suggesting that they deserve equal pay simply because they are women. Speaking to reporters on in July Rapinoe said that the relatively paltry prize money for the Women’s World Cup is “certainly not fair,” and should be doubled and then quadrupled.
“I think everyone is ready for this conversation to move to the next step. I think we’re done with the ‘Are we worth it? Should we have equal pay? Is it, you know, is the market the same,’ yada, yada. Everyone is done with that – fans are done with that, players are done with that, in a lot of ways I think sponsors and everyone is done with that,” Rapinoe said. “Let’s get to the next point of what’s next, how do we support women’s federation and women’s programs around the world. What can FIFA do to do that, what can we do to support the leagues around the world?”
Rapinoe’s conflicting arguments also feature in the lawsuit that the women’s national team filed against the Federation. The players claim that they bring in more non-World Cup revenue than the men, and yet to get paid less because of sexism. But they also insist that the federation compensate them for the fact that FIFA pays out much larger bonuses to men than to women for the World Cup.
The Federation counters that it pays the teams according to separate collective bargaining agreements, which it denies are discriminatory. According to the available data, the women are indeed generally paid less than the men. But they enjoy guaranteed salaries whereas the men are only paid bonuses based on performance.
The woman have also brought in more money from games in the past few years, in part because they have played many more of them. But the men’s team has historically generated millions of dollars more, and may still contribute more to sponsorship revenue, which accounts for about half of the federation’s income.
When it comes to the World Cup, the federation denies responsibility for Fifa’s financial decisions, which are actually relatively generous to women. The men’s tournament is just way more popular and lucrative.
In 2018, the World Cup earned $6 billion, with 7 percent going to the participating men’s teams. France walked away with $38 million for winning. By contrast, this year’s women’s World Cup is expected to earn $131 million. The U.S. women got $4 million of the $30 million prize.
Although the U.S. Soccer Federation collects the money, it passes the bulk of it on to the players, regardless of whether they are men or women.