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U.S. Soccer Federation Asks Appeals Court to Uphold Wage Discrimination Ruling

— September 23, 2021

The federation wants an appeals court to uphold a lower court ruling which dismissed part of women players’ discrimination lawsuit.

The U.S. Soccer Federation has asked the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to uphold a lower court’s earlier decision dismissing wage discrimination claims from a lawsuit filed by women players.

According to The Associated Press, the soccer organization filed a 59-page brief with the San Francisco-based appellate court on Wednesday.

In it, the U.S.S.F. asserted that U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner had correctly granted a summary judgment on behalf of the federation, throwing out wage discrimination claims from female members of the United States’ national soccer team. Klausner, says The Associated Press, found that the women had rejected the sort of pay-to-play structure used by the men’s team, instead accepting larger base salaries and benefits packages.

However, Klausner did allow the women’s claim of discriminatory working conditions to proceed to trial; the players and U.S.S.F. were able to settle before.

In spite of the suit’s partial resolution, the players have asked that the 9th Circuit let the case move froward.

The U.S. Soccer Federation, though, maintains that women’s team players “deliberately negotiated for a CBA that prioritized guaranteed salaries and substantial benefits over higher contingent bonuses.”

Girl soccer players
Girl soccer players; image courtesy of skeeze via Pixabay,

“Plaintiffs cannot now, with the benefit of hindsight, pursue ‘equal pay’ claims based on the different pay structure they explicitly rejected,” federation attorneys wrote. “The District Court agreed. This is not a factual dispute. It is not a battle of experts. It is a fundamental disagreement about what equal pay means under the law.”

The group also says that they have recently offered identical contracts to both unions.

Nevertheless, players’ spokesperson Molly Levinson says that U.S. Soccer’s defense fails to address critical parts of the complaint.

In a statement, Levinson remarked on the Soccer Federation’s refusal to agree to a deal that would not equalize World Cup prize money.

“USSF completely ignores that the women’s team had to be much more successful than the men’s team to make about the same as men,” Levinson said. “USSF determines its own budget and its own rate of pay and cannot blame FIFA for its own ongoing and past discrimination.”

The Washington Post notes that the men’s team has also challenged U.S. Soccer’s practices. In July, for instance, male players filed an amicus brief flatly saying their female counterparts should have been paid more.

The U.S.S.F. is currently negotiating new contracts for both the men and women’s teams. However, it remains to be seen how negotiations will unfold.


U.S. Soccer argues it paid women’s team more than men in appeal brief for equal pay lawsuit

US Soccer asks 9th Circuit to uphold ruling against players

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