USWNT lawsuit

US Women’s Soccer Players Come Up With a New Way to Protest During National Anthem

The U.S. women’s national soccer team players wore their jerseys inside out Wednesday evening during pregame warm-ups for an exhibition game in their latest protest of an ongoing pay dispute with the U.S. soccer federation.

The USSF crest remained hidden on their uniforms as the women stood for the national anthem before the team’s 3-1 victory over Japan in Frisco, Texas, The Associated Press reported.

The demonstration came two days after the USSF’s latest court filing.

The women’s team in a lawsuit claims they are not paid equally in violation of federal law.

The USSF said in a filing in the case, which is scheduled to go to trial in federal district court in California, that the women are not entitled to the same pay as their male counterparts since their jobs do not require “equal skill, effort and responsibility under similar working conditions.”

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The wording upset the women’s players, according to midfielder and team co-captain Megan Rapinoe.

“Every negotiation that we have, those undertones are there, that we’re lesser,” Rapinoe told ESPN after the game. “Every mediation session that we had, any time we meet with them and obviously, the reason that we filed this lawsuit.”

Moments before the conclusion of the win over Japan, USSF President Carlos Cordeiro issued an apology, “for the offense and pain caused by the language in this week’s court filing, which did not reflect the values of our federation or our tremendous admiration for our women’s national team.”

A gender-based discrimination case

At issue in the dispute is the definition of equal pay. Both the men’s and women’s teams are paid under separate collective bargaining agreements.

Players on the U.S. men’s national team, who make the bulk of their earnings from their club teams, are paid by the USSF on a per-game basis.

The bonuses paid to the men are higher than those earned by the women, who earn substantially less playing club soccer. Consequently, the USSF pays the women’s players on the national team guaranteed annual salaries of $100,000 in addition to any per-game bonuses.

Furthermore, the USSF subsidizes the salaries — to the tune of  $67,500 to $72,500 per year — of many of the women’s players who play in the National Women’s Soccer League.

The women’s collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021.

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Last year, the USSF distributed a letter in which it claimed the women’s players were paid more by the federation than the men, $34.1 milllion to $26.1 million, over the past decade.

Still, the language used in Monday’s court filing outraged many USWNT players.

“It’s interesting because I train with the U-18 boys team at home and I said that in my deposition: I’m more skillful than all of those boys there, put together,” co-captain Carli Lloyd said following the Japan game.

“But they’re bigger and they’re stronger and they’re faster. And that’s just the way that they are born. As they get older, we just can’t compete with that, that’s science. But from a skill [standpoint], I’m better than every single one of those boys…So you put more speed and more strength and all that on me, then there’s no doubt that I’d be able to fully, fully compete.”

Cover image: Reserve goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, left, and Megan Rapinoe, right, stand during the national anthems with their jerseys worn inside out as part of a protest before the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s game against Japan in Frisco, Texas, on March 11, 2020. (Screen grab)

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