Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley this week joined 33 other senators to call on U.S. Soccer to establish equal pay for its athletes. Despite their successes on the field, players on the U.S. Women’s National Team are still paid considerably less than their male counterparts.
In 2016, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for U.S. Soccer to immediately eliminate gender pay inequity and treat all athletes with the same respect and dignity. Despite that resolution and other efforts, the pay gap has persisted, forcing 28 members of the women’s team to file a lawsuit earlier this month. Four Portland Thorns players – Adrianna Franch, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan and Emily Sonnett – are also member of the U.S. Women’s National Team and among the lawsuit’s plaintiffs.
“While we recognize that the U.S. Women’s National Team and the U.S. Men’s National Team have different pay structures, the pay outcomes nevertheless demonstrate striking inequities,” the senators wrote. “For example, the U.S. Men’s National Team received nearly $5.4 million in total performance bonuses after losing in the Round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup, while the U.S. Women’s National Team received less than a third of that amount for winning the World Cup the following year. This type of pay disparity is difficult to justify, and in stark contrast to what the U.S. Senate unanimously urged in 2016.”
In addition to Wyden and Merkley the letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Tom Carper, D-Del., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Chris Coons, D-Del., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Kamala D. Harris, D-Calif., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Maize K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
Full text of the letter can be found here and below.
A web version of this release is available here.
March 28, 2019
United States Soccer Federation
1801 South Prairie Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616
Dear Mr. Cordeiro,
We are deeply concerned that the U.S. Soccer Federation has made limited progress to address compensation inequities between the women and men who play for the U.S. National Soccer Teams since many of us last wrote to your organization, and the Senate passed a resolution urging the U.S. Soccer Federation to immediately eliminate gender pay inequity in 2016. Twenty-eight women who play for the U.S. Women’s National Team recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation arguing that they have consistently been paid less than their male counterparts. Unfortunately, the pay disparity experienced by the U.S. Women’s National Team is representative of the gender pay gap experienced by women across the country.
The extraordinary success of the U.S. Women’s National Team and the team’s outsized contribution to Federation profits make clear that U.S. Women’s National Team members deserve to be paid at least as much as their male counterparts. The U.S. Women’s National Team is ranked first in the world and will travel to France in a few months to defend their Women’s World Cup title. Over the past few years, they have also contributed higher revenues and profit to the Federation than the men’s team. In fact, as many of us have previously noted, the Federation had initially projected a net loss of approximately $430,000 for Fiscal Year 2015, but, largely as a result of the women’s team victory in the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the Federation revised its projections and posted a $10 million profit.
While we recognize that the U.S. Women’s National Team and the U.S. Men’s National Team have different pay structures, the pay outcomes nevertheless demonstrate striking inequities. For example, the U.S. Men’s National Team received nearly $5.4 million in total performance bonuses after losing in the Round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup, while the U.S. Women’s National Team received less than a third of that amount for winning the World Cup the following year.
This type of pay disparity is difficult to justify, and in stark contrast to what the U.S. Senate unanimously urged in 2016—that the U.S. Soccer Federation immediately end all gender pay inequity and treat all athletes with the respect and dignity those athletes deserve.
We hope you, as the Federation’s president, will fully address this issue for a team that represents the best our country has to offer and serves as inspiration for young athletes around the world. We are encouraged by statements you made prior to your election in February 2018, including that “[W]e clearly need to work toward equal pay for the national teams. I believe that where existing agreements are unfair, adjustments should be made immediately.” We urge you to now take immediate action to ensure that the U.S. Women’s National Team is fairly compensated.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.