USWNT blasts US Soccer's identical contract offer 'PR stunt' as equal pay fight continues

·3-min read

The United States Women's National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) is calling the U.S. Soccer Federation's offer of identical contracts for its women's and men's national teams nothing more than a publicity stunt. 

U.S. Soccer announced in a release on Tuesday it offered identical contract proposals to players unions for both the USWNT and USMNT. The federation said it is "the best path forward for all involved" to be on a single pay structure and be aligned under a "single collective bargaining agreement (CBA) structure." 

USWNT players union calls offer a PR stunt

The USWNTPA replied to the public announcement of the offer on Tuesday via Twitter. The group called it a PR stunt and again reiterated its belief the federation was not bargaining in good faith.  

"USSF's PR stunts and bargaining through the media will not bring us any closer to a fair agreement. In contrast, we are committed to bargaining in good faith to achieve equal pay and the safest working conditions possible. The proposal that USSF made recently to us does neither." 

The USMNT, who have so far not commented, have been playing under a CBA that expired in 2018. Their next matches are in October as they look to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. The USWNT CBA expires after this year. The 2020 Olympic bronze medalists are hosting Paraguay in a friendly on Thursday night. 

USWNT equal pay fight continues 

AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 16: United States fans hold up an Equal Pay banner in protest of unequal wages for female athletes in action during a Summer Series friendly international match between Nigeria and the United States on June 16, 2021 at Q2 Stadium in Austin, TX. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 16: United States fans hold up an Equal Pay banner in protest of unequal wages for female athletes in action during a Summer Series friendly international match between Nigeria and the United States on June 16, 2021 at Q2 Stadium in Austin, TX. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The USWNT players have been in a fight with the federation for years now — and for truly most of the team's existence. The player pool filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in March 2019, three months before winning a second consecutive Women's World Cup. 

That fight has been going on ever since. In May 2020, a federal judge ruled in their favor on terms of equal treatment, but dismissed most of the rest of the claims. After a settlement on the equal treatment claims was reached in April, the USWNT players filed their appeal for equal pay in July while competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

A week later, and while the USWNT advanced via penalty kicks in the Olympic quarterfinals, the USMNT union filed an amicus brief in full support of the USWNT's fight. The group argued the women don't deserve equal pay, but rather they deserve to be paid more than the men's team. Specifically, they argued for "at least triple the compensation provided for in the men’s agreement."

What's the problem? 

U.S. Soccer has not released any type of details about the contract offered to both parties. The only solid information is that it is the same contract, but there are many reasons a union would decline offers. 

Jeff Carlisle reported for ESPN that there is skepticism around U.S. Soccer's motives for one CBA and that FIFA bonus money is being "used as a weapon" against the men's union to make U.S. Soccer "look like the good guy." 

"The way they want to solve the women's problem is not by increasing the women's income fairly," a source told Carlisle at ESPN. "It's by cutting [the men's CBA] down to the [women's] 2017 to 2021 deal numbers."

As Caitlin Murray has written for Yahoo Sports, the equal pay case hinges on more parties than only U.S. Soccer. FIFA pays out vastly different amounts for men's and women's World Cup victories. And the income differential between men's clubs and women's clubs is also large. Those have played key parts in CBAs in the past, and could be at play here. 

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