After filing a federal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against U.S. Soccer over wage discrimination last month, the championship women’s team is considering a boycott of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this summer if their requests aren’t met.
Co-captain for the women’s team Becky Sauerbrunn told ESPNW that their position isn’t an idle threat.
“It would still be on the table,” Sauerbrunn told ESPNW’s Julie Foudy. “We are reserving every right to do so and we’re leaving every avenue open. If nothing has changed and we don’t feel any progress has been made, then it’s a conversation that we’re gonna have.”
Sauerbrunn says it’s not just about money, but also respect and better fields.
“The outcome, I hope, is equal pay for equal play,” she said. “I think, compensation-wise and respect-wise, that’s what I’m really hoping comes out of this complaint. I hope that it puts enough pressure on the federation, to show them our worth and our value. Hopefully also, from there, other people put enough pressure on U.S. Soccer if the complaint doesn’t fall in our favor. Hopefully that’s the ending point.”
With their winning streak of three World Cup in the last several years, the team led by Carli Lloyd, Becky Sauerbrunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo are the more recognizable here in the states than their male counterparts. But their pay does not reflect that, as the New York Times reported recently.
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.
Lloyd echoed that sentiment in an op-ed for the Times on Monday, writing in response to those who accused her of not loving her country for filing their complaint, “we’re sick of being treated like second-class citizens. It wears on you after a while. And we are done with it.”