Football

U.S. Soccer Federation "committed to equality" between women's and men's national teams after reaching settlement

Women's team players to appeal earlier court ruling ruling in favour of the federation in equal pay lawsuit

By ZK Goh ·

U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) president Cindy Parlow Cone says a settlement reached with players of the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) "will serve as a springboard for continued progress."

Parlow Cone, herself a former USWNT player who won two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup, said she was "committed to equality between the USWNT and USMNT (men's national team)."

USWNT players sued U.S. Soccer last year, alleging gender discrimination and claiming they were paid some U.S. $3.65 million less than the U.S. men's team despite having won the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2015, while the men were eliminated in the last-16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

However, a judge ruled in favour of the federation earlier this year on the matter of equal pay, and said the suit could only proceed on the basis of unequal working conditions such as accommodation, support, and travel.

At the time, the now-U.S. President-elect Joe Biden tweeted his support to the players, saying: "Don't give up this fight. This is not over yet."

On Tuesday (1 December), the two parties agreed on a settlement that will see the USWNT receive conditions similar to the American men's team, covering team travel, venues for team events, hotels, and support services.

The settlement says the "USSF denies that it did anything wrong and maintains that it has not discriminated against Plaintiffs (USWNT players) on the basis of sex in pay or working conditions."

Equal pay appeal

A statement from the players, issued through a spokesperson, welcomed the settlement and said the players would file an appeal against the earlier ruling from May about equal pay.

"We are pleased that the USWNT Players have fought for — and achieved — long overdue equal working conditions," the statement read.

"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."

Parlow Cone, who became USSF President in March after the resignation of previous head Carlos Cordeiro, said: "My goal is, and has always been, to come to a resolution on all equal pay matters and inspire a new era of collaboration, partnership, and trust between the USWNT and the Federation."

She added to reporters separately: "I hope everyone sees that we are a new U.S. Soccer."

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Global report

Earlier this year, a report issued by the global footballers' union FIFPRO noted: "Many elite female players are still required to stitch together their football incomes as patchworks from various sources since one source — whether that be a single club or their national team — is often not enough to support them.

"Payments for national team appearances are much more infrequent than the club salary, with year-round compensation for national team play being rare.

"As female players organise, the call to action is loud and clear: fair treatment, decent work, equal opportunities, and the right to viable career paths as professionals in this industry.

"The potential of the game and the industry is dependent on the potential of the player being fulfilled. This can only be realised under proper conditions that support the physical and mental well-being of players and protect and promote their ability and integrity."

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