U.S. Soccer hires lobbyists to counter USWNT equal pay arguments

Carlos Cordeiro U.S. SoccerBruce Bennett

U.S. Soccer has hired two Washington lobbying firms to counter some of the U.S. women's national team's claims of gender discrimination, the federation has confirmed to Goal.

The news, which was first reported by Politico, will likely increase tension between the federation and the USWNT, which filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in March.

In the lawsuit, the USWNT claimed that U.S. Soccer "continues to practice gender-based discrimination against its champion female employees on the WNT in comparison to its less successful male employees on the MNT."

Article continues below

The lawsuit will soon enter a phase of mediation as both sides attempt to avoid a drawn-out court case.

The USWNT did their part on the field this summer, winning their second consecutive World Cup last month by defeating the Netherlands 2-0 in the final.

Off the field, the team is continuing its fight for more equitable pay. Recently, U.S. Soccer has begun to fight back. 

Last week, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro released an open letter that disputed several of the claims the USWNT is making, as well as asserting that they are already paid more than their USMNT counterparts.

Now the federation has hired the lobbying firms, something they may view as necessary due to increased political pressure. 

Last month, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), as well as Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) introduced legislation that would require U.S. Soccer to pay their men's and women's teams equally or else there would be no federal funding for the 2026 World Cup, set to be hosted by the USA, Mexico and Canada.

The lobbyists have been utilizing a presentation, obtained by Politico, in meetings with congressional members and their staff, which aims to counter several of the gender discrimination claims the USWNT is making. 

The presentation points out, among other things, that U.S. Soccer provides a salary and benefits to their women's team but not their men's team, though the pay structure for the men is different due to those players being employees of their club teams, not U.S. Soccer like the women's players.

The USWNT will continue their five-game World Cup victory tour with matches against Portugal in Philadelphia on August 29 and in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 3.