'The federation treats USWNT like second-class citizens' - USMNT players union offers support in equal pay fight

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The U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA), which represents players for the U.S. men’s national team, showed support for the U.S. women's national team's fight for equal pay in a legal filing, arguing that the women deserve more pay than the men's team.

Amicus briefs were filed on Friday in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the latest chapter in the USWNT's equal-pay lawsuit, and one of those briefs came from USNSTPA, which claimed the women players actually deserve more than equal wages due to an outdated collective bargaining agreement and potential performance bonuses. 

The women's team is currently aiming to see a district court ruling reversed after its original lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation was dismissed. 

What did the amicus brief say?

"While the women are correct that the Federation has refused to provide them with equal pay, the reality is that equal should have been an absolute minimum under the facts of this case," the statement read in part. 

"Because of the Federation’s dramatic increases in revenue associated with the USMNT and USWNT in the years preceding the 2017 collective bargaining agreement, the women’s agreement should not have provided simply for appearance fees and performance bonuses equal to those in the men’s 2011 agreement; it should have provided the women higher pay.

"The USMNT Players Association expected the Federation to agree in 2017 to pay the women far in excess of what the men were being paid under their agreement negotiated in 2011 and was stunned to see that the Federation did not even agree to pay the women at the same level it had negotiated with the men six years earlier. See 5-ER-1070.

"Given the Federation’s dramatically improved financial circumstances, the women were due at least triple the compensation provided for in the men’s agreement."

The statement adds: “The United States Soccer Federation markets the United States Men’s and Women’s National Teams under the slogan, ‘One Nation. One Team.’ But for more than 30 years, the Federation has treated the Women’s National Team players as second-class citizens, discriminating against the women in their wages and working conditions and paying them less than the Men’s National Team players, even as U.S. Soccer has enjoyed a period of extraordinary financial growth.

"The Federation has never offered or provided equal pay to the women, and the district court’s holding to the contrary cannot be squared with the facts.”

What was the USWNT's response?

"As we celebrate today's incredible quarter-final Olympic win, we also saw overwhelming support for our appeal from many committed to equal pay including the National Women's Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, former EEOC officials the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, and others, and we are grateful," tweeted Molly Levinson, who represents the USWNT.

"A special thank you to the men players, the U.S. National team, for the strong support in their amicus brief today in which they joined with the women players to decry USSF’s continued discrimination against the women. To our U.S. National Team colleagues: thank you for your serious allyship for equal pay. Now THAT is One Nation One TEAM. LFG!"

What happens next?

U.S. Soccer recently requested a time extension as part of the appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which the courts granted. As a result, their respose to the players' opening brief will be due by Sept. 22.

After that, the players' legal team will have a 21-day period in which to respond.

The appeal process is expected to go on for quite some time, and could last into 2022 or even 2023. 

In the past, U.S. Soccer has said that the federation would be open to meeting with the players to discuss an out-of-court settlement. The two sides agreed on a settlement regarding working conditions, including flights, venue selection, support staff and hotel accommodations, earlier this year.

How is the USWNT doing at the Olympics?

The USWNT are set to play in the Olympic semifinals after edging the Netherlands on penalty kicks on Friday.

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The squad will take on Canada on Monday in one semifinal, with Australia facing Sweden in the other match.

The winners of those matches will meet for the gold medal on Aug. 6 with the losers competing for bronze one day prior.

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