“We are pleased that the USWNT players have fought for — and achieved — long overdue equal working conditions,” Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, said in a statement. “We now intend to file our 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.
“We remain as committed as ever,” Levinson added, “to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve.”
The women’s players and U.S. Soccer have been plotting a path forward in their relationship since May, when a federal judge, R. Gary Klausner, delivered a crushing blow to the players’ equal pay arguments.
In his ruling, Judge Klausner not only dismissed the players’ contention that they were systematically underpaid by U.S. Soccer in comparison with men’s national team players, but he also said the federation had substantiated its argument that the women’s team had actually earned more “on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis” than the men’s team during the years at issue in the lawsuit.
The ruling was a significant, if unpopular, victory for U.S. Soccer. The stars of the women’s team — players like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz — are some of the federation’s most popular and highest-paid employees, and they had embraced the equal pay fight. Using their years of media training, their popularity and their huge social media followings, they had worked effectively since going public with their fight nearly five years ago to bring fans and, critically, federation sponsors to their cause.
In February, months before Judge Klausner’s ruling, they had set a price for ending their lawsuit: $67 million in back pay and damages. On Tuesday, Parlow Cone said even a much smaller figure “would likely bankrupt the federation.” But she stressed several times during her conference call that she and the federation’s new leadership were eager to engage in discussions that might lead to a resolution.
The new agreement on working conditions is expected to be included in the new collective bargaining agreements for both national teams, along with triggers that would automatically make reciprocal any gains by either side in future negotiations.