Five players from the World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team have filed a federal wage discrimination complaint, saying they earn nearly four times less than their male counterparts despite performing better and generating more revenue.
Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo filed the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the U.S. Soccer Federation on Thursday.
The wage gap persists despite the women’s team’s four Olympic gold medals and three World Cup wins – and the fact that they generated more revenue than the men’s team last year, the complaint charges.
Last year, a projected net loss for both teams of nearly $423,000 was turned into $17.7 million in projected profits after the women’s team’s World Cup win last year, according to the complaint, which cites budget figures released last month.
In the next fiscal year, the U.S. Soccer Federation expects to earn $5 million from the women’s team, while the men’s team is projected to cause a net loss of nearly $1 million.
USA players celebrate with teammates after their victory in the final match between USA and Japan during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada in July last year
‘I’ve been on this team for a decade and a half, and I’ve been through numerous [collective bargaining agreement] negotiations, and honestly, not much has changed,’ Solo said on the Today show Thursday.
MEN MAKE MORE BY LOSING THAN WOMEN DO BY WINNING
According to Thursday’s complaint, an unfair system leads the US men’s team players to earn more bonus cash for losing than female players do for winning:
For winning 20 friendly games, a female player would earn a total of $99,000.
If her team lost 20 games, the female player would earn $72,000.
If the men’s team wins 20 friendlies, a male player will likely earn a total of over $263,000.
If his team lost 20 games, the male player would likely earn $100,000.
‘We continue to be told we should be grateful just to have the opportunity to play professional soccer, to get paid for doing it.’
‘In this day and age, it’s about equality. It’s about equal rights. It’s about equal pay. We’re pushing for that. We believe now the time is right because we believe it’s our responsibility for women’s sports and specifically for women’s soccer to do whatever it takes to push for equal pay and equal rights. And to be treated with respect.’
‘I think the timing is right,’ said Lloyd.
‘I think that we’ve proven our worth over the years. Just coming off of a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. And we want to continue to fight.’
In a statement Thursday, US Soccer said it was ‘disappointed’ about the action.
‘We understand the Women’s National Team Players Association is filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against U.S. Soccer,’ the USSF statement said.
‘While we have not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we are disappointed about this action. We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.’
The lawyer for the five players, Jeffrey Kessler, said women also earn less in bonuses and per diems than men.
According to the suit, a men’s player earns as much as $17,625 in bonus money for a won match, while a women’s player receives only $1,350.
For a loss, a male player can earn $5,000, whereas a female player gets nothing for losses or ties.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo, left, and midfielder Carli Lloyd, right, were two of the five players who signed the wage discrimination complaint
The union representing the players is currently involved in a legal dispute with U.S. Soccer over the validity of their collective bargaining agreement.
The federation filed a lawsuit this year seeking to clarify that its contract with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association runs through the Rio Olympics until Dec. 31.
The union maintains the memorandum of understanding agreed to in March 2013 can be terminated at any time.
The women’s national soccer team earned its most recent gold medal in the World Cup last year.
The team has won Olympic gold medals three years in a row and is set to compete in this summer’s Rio games.
The five players who took a stand, pictured from left to right: Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Hope Solo