Five players on the women’s national team filed a federal complaint against U.S. Soccer alleging wage discrimination. The players who signed the complaint said they were acting on behalf of the entire women’s soccer team, as they are all employees of U.S. Soccer, the governing body for the sport in America. The female players claimed that they earn as little as 40 percent of what players on the U.S. men’s national team earn.
Although opportunities have greatly increased for female professional athletes since the passage of the gender-equity legislation known as Title IX in 1972, sports officials continue to struggle with equality of pay. For example, while the men’s soccer team is mediocre and the women are three-time World Cup champions and four-time Olympic champions, the women earn only half as much, if that, as the men.
U.S. Soccer has argued that men’s players deserve higher compensation because they draw bigger crowds and generate more revenue from ticket sales and corporate sponsorships. However, the Women’s World Cup final (in which the U.S. defeated Japan) was viewed by 25.4 million people on Fox last summer. This was a record for any men’s or women’s soccer game on English-language television.
Both the men’s and women’s national teams have collective bargaining agreements with U.S. Soccer, but the financial terms of the agreements are drastically different. In order to prove discrimination, the female players will have to prove equality of work and market conditions, a stringent legal requirement.
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