Judge Dismisses U.S. Women's Soccer Team's Lawsuit Demanding Equal Pay, Here's Why

A federal judge on Friday said a discriminatory claim by the U.S. women's national soccer team (WNT) of not getting paid equal to their counterparts on the men's national team did not hold equal footing.

The judge said the women's team rejected negotiating points that would have made their contracts more equal to those on the men's team, then tossed it to the side.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner wrote, in a 32-page decision, that contracts previously negotiated from the women's team rejected the same pay structure as the men's national team (MNT), according to an Associated Press report.

"The history of negotiations between the parties demonstrates that the WNT rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT, and the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greter base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players," Klausner wrote.

The men's team did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament, whereas the women's team dominated the 2019 Women's World Cup and brought back the title. Their dominance began stirring the debate that women on the national team should be paid as much as the men.

That did not factor in the judge's decision.

"Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA [Collective Bargaining Agreement] worse than the MNT CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT's pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure," Klausner continued.

U.S. Women's Soccer
Tobin Heath of the USA reacts after the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United State of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France. Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images

U.S. women's star Alex Morgan was at the forefront of the women's team asking for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for players on the women's national team, said her representatives should not be lessened by gender.

"We are shocked and disappointed with today's decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay," Levinson said. "We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender."

A trial is tentatively set for a federal court on June 16 in Los Angeles, but players have asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn Klausner's decision. That could delay the trial even further.

"We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them," Levinson said.