USWNT Claims U.S. Soccer Federation Used 'False Numbers' to Hide Gender Pay Gap

Representatives for the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) have accused the U.S. Soccer Federation of using false numbers to support a claim that female players were paid as much as their male counterparts.

In March, 28 players from the USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

In the lawsuit, the players stated they should be paid as much as their male colleagues, particularly given they have been more successful than USMNT.

On Monday later, in an open letter to federation members, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro stated that an analysis of the federation finances showed the women had been paid millions of dollars more than their male colleagues.

However, Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the players dismissed the claims as an attempt to put the lid on the wave of support USWNT has received in its bid for equal pay.

When the players held a rally in New York earlier this month to celebrate their World Cup triumph, the crowd broke into a huge "equal pay" chant.

"This is a sad attempt by the USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress," Levinson was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally. This is why they use words like 'fair' and 'equitable,' not 'equal,' in describing pay.

"The numbers the USSF uses are utterly false, which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women's players' compensation. Any apples-to-apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women."

USWNT, 2019 World Cup
Members of the World Cup-winning US women's team take part in a ticker tape parade with their trophy for the women's World Cup champions on July 10 in New York. - Tens of thousands of fans are poised to pack the streets of New York on Wednesday to salute the World Cup-winning US women's team in a ticker-tape parade. Four years after roaring fans lined the route of Lower Manhattan's fabled "Canyon of Heroes" to cheer the US women winning the 2015 World Cup, the Big Apple is poised for another raucous celebration. Johannes Eisele / AFP/Getty

Cordeiro's letter was the first public response after weeks of public pressure in the wake of USWNT's World Cup triumph. It came a day after USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe met Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in Tacoma, Washington to step up the fight for equal pay.

In the missive, Cordeiro stated that women's players were paid $34.1 million by the federation from 2010 to 2018 in salaries and bonuses, including National Women's Soccer League salaries paid by U.S. Soccer for national team-contracted players.

By comparison, over the same period, members of the men's national team were paid $26.4 million.

The analysis did not include the bonuses received by U.S. Soccer from FIFA for World Cup performances. When the bonuses are included, members of the USMNT earned a combined $41 million between 2010 and 2018, while the women received $39.7 million.

Cordeiro insisted the federation cannot be held responsible for that disparity, as it is due to the difference in FIFA prize money. For example, France received $38 million for winning the World Cup in Russia last year, an amount bigger than the prize pool that was divided among the 24 teams who took part in the women's World Cup last month.

"Just as our WNT players have shared their perspective, I strongly believe that you—as U.S. Soccer members, stakeholders, sponsors and partners—deserve to hear ours," Cordeiro wrote.

"Now that the Women's World Cup is behind us, a common understanding of key facts will also help advance our shared work to grow women's soccer in America as well as the larger national discussion about equality."

USWNT and USMNT are signed up to different collective bargaining agreements and while members of both teams are paid directly by the U.S. Soccer Federation, the pay structures are different.