Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo—the five most recognizable names from the U.S. women’s national soccer team—have filed a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, requesting that U.S. Soccer be investigated over wage discrimination.

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The U.S. women’s team earns remarkably less than the U.S. men’s team, despite winning far more frequently and gaining a much larger and more active fan base. Over the past several years, the women’s team has won three World Cup championships (most recently in 2015) and continuously taken home gold at the Olympics. The latest achievement by the men’s team was making it to the quarterfinals at the World Cup in 2002.

“The filing, citing figures from the USSF’s 2015 financial report, says that despite the women’s team generating nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men’s team, the women are paid almost four times less,” reports ESPN.

Via the New York Times:

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The women’s players are salaried employees — the top players are paid about $72,000 a year by the federation — but they contend that even with that extra income, their bonus structure means they still earn far less than their male counterparts, who receive money from U.S. Soccer only if they are called to the national team.

A men’s player, for example, receives $5,000 for a loss in a friendly match but as much as $17,625 for a win against a top opponent. A women’s player receives $1,350 for a similar match, but only if the United States wins; women’s players get no bonuses for losses or ties.

Yet the women point to the television ratings for their matches and the crowds they draw as evidence that the disparity in federation pay is unfair.

(Emphasis mine.)

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“The numbers speak for themselves,” says goalkeeper Hope Solo, in a statement released by the team’s lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler. “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships and the USMNT get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

“This is the strongest case of discrimination against women athletes in violation of law that I have ever seen,” says Kessler.

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The men and the women “have identical work requirements,” Kessler said. “The same number of minimum friendlies, the same requirements about participating and making the World Cup teams — identical work.

“But the women,” he said, “have without dispute vastly outperformed the men not just on the playing field but econonomically for the U.S.S.F. The women have generated all the money in comparison with the men.”

In a statement of its own, U.S. Soccer responded that the organization had yet to read the complaint, but:

“We are disappointed about this action. We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”

While Lloyd, Sauerbrunn, Morgan, Rapinoe, and Solo are the players bringing forth the complaint, the athletes say that they are acting on behalf of the entire team.

(Note: The original post was updated to include a quote from ESPN.)


Image via Getty.