Patterico's Pontifications


U.S. Women’s Soccer Wins on Opponent’s Own Goal

Filed under: General — JVW @ 12:04 pm

[guest post by JVW]

I figured I should comment on the most recent, and perhaps final, development in the matter of the United States Women National Soccer Team (USWNT) and United States Soccer (USS) which we have discussed first in 2019 and then updated the following year. Please refer back to those posts for an overview of the issues, as I am too pressed for time right now to recap.

This past week, the sides settled their dispute with USS agreeing to pay $24 million to the USWNT, with 11/12 of that sum going as back-wages to players and the remaining $2 million set aside for a fund which players can tap for post-career initiatives or for charitable purposes. The settlement is contingent upon USWNT agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement which is expected to happen within the next few months. USS also has committed to providing equal pay to both the women’s and men’s team going forward, including player bonuses which are paid by USS for participation in tournaments such as the quadrennial World Cup. (Presumably this commitment does not encompass prize money paid to players by FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, seeing as how the men’s World Cup revenue is nearly fifty times larger than the women’s World Cup revenue.)

This is being seen as a win for the USWNT, and rightfully so. Coming off of yet another World Cup title (if, to be sure, coupled with yet another underwhelming Olympics performance), the women not only are receiving the back-pay they had been fighting for, but they are also forcing USS to admit in deed if not in fact that the former collective bargaining agreement — which the USWNT’s represented had agreed to back in 2017 — was unfair. This argument had been rejected by U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner almost two years ago. Yet USS decided to give in and settle anyway, and even though the national governing body insists this is a justifiable compromise (the $24 million settlement is indeed far less than the $67 million the USWNT had originally demanded), there is no way that ever-woke sports media wasn’t going to spin this as an acknowledgement that the women were unfairly paid in relation to the men, even though neither Judge Klausner nor I was convinced of that fact. Yes, USS gets this distraction off of their daily agenda, and they say that this will save them an estimated $9 million in legal fees going forward (being a sports labor lawyer must be a ka-ching! profession), so I suppose it is entirely up to them and their legal counsel to determine whether or not this step makes sense.

Not everyone is pleased with the result, though. Former USWNT goalie Hope Solo, who was one of the first players to sue for higher pay (and a separate suit she has against USWNT is still in the court system), believes that the settlement’s dependence upon CBA ratification is actually a trap and could cause the women’s player association to settle for a lesser deal in order to unlock the back wages. An article in The Athletic (restricted to subscribers) points out that in order to align their CBA with that of the men’s team, the men’s player association is going to have to cooperate, and the fellas will certainly have their own opinions on what “equity” entails.

But let’s tip our caps to the women’s team who played their match in the Court of Public Opinion far better than they played it in United States District Court.


18 Responses to “U.S. Women’s Soccer Wins on Opponent’s Own Goal”

  1. The title of this post isn’t the perfect metaphor for what went on. I guess a better one would be that U.S. Soccer walked off the pitch with a one-goal lead in the second half and thus forfeited the match, but that would have been a really long title.

    JVW (ee64e4)

  2. Next, men’s gymnastics and figure skating associations sue for equal pay. And can the WFL be long in coming?

    Kevin M (38e250)

  3. US Soccer did score an “own goal” when in a legal brief that at best was condescending at at worst misogynistic. It was forced to withdraw the brief and the president of USS was forced out.

    In a response to a motion for summary judgment, U.S. Soccer claimed Monday night that it was “indisputable `science’” that the women lacked the “skill” of male players. It also said the women did not face the same “responsibilities” because the global game is not as developed as the men’s.
    U.S. Soccer’s legal team had made its clear months ago that its defense was going to be rooted in sexism and humiliation.

    In depositions, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan were asked about losing to teenage boys, the insinuation being that the U.S. women were only good for female players. Kelley O’Hara was asked to justify the larger revenues and audiences for the men’s World Cup.

    Rip Murdock (d67a00)

  4. @3 a match between the men’s team and the women’s team would likely produce a result at best “condescending at at worst misogynistic”

    JF (e1156d)

  5. may the men declare themselves trans and takeover the women’s team, then rake in more $$ by winning the world cup

    JF (e1156d)

  6. Who are you, and what have you done with college-football-loving JVW?

    Soccer? Meh.

    norcal (5948da)

  7. Soccer? I don’t even know her!

    nk (1d9030)

  8. As if that absolves you, nk.

    norcal (5948da)

  9. The owner of Chelsea (no, the other Chelsea) is one of the kleptocrats facing Ukraine invasion sanctions at Airstrip One.

    nk (1d9030)

  10. @9 Chelsea soccer goes out of business? Who cares? It’s a sports team, and a lousy sport at that!

    norcal (5948da)

  11. Soccer needs more shows with Ted Lasso. Then I’d watch.

    mg (8cbc69)

  12. @@9/@10. !!!!!!!!!!!

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  13. I’m good with the government prohibiting employment discrimination against suspect classes for jobs that are fungible. But entertainment, of which sports is a subset, isn’t that. The entertainer’s performance is the end consumer product, and as one of those consumers I’m willing to pay more to see some entertainers than I am others. I’d think those entertainers who are broadly preferred would be paid commensurately with the demand, irrespective of sex, race, ethnicity, etc.

    Of course it’s always possible for teams, leagues, associations, entertainment companies, etc., to pay some groups less than others, based not on market, but on bias. IMO that should be prohibited and penalized. But absent that, I don’t get why compensation for entertainers isn’t directly correlated to demand.

    (As it happens, I’d pay more to see the US Women’s soccer team than I would the men’s. Women’s basketball, on the other hand, couldn’t interest me less. I’d rather watch the Weather Channel. So to the extent my preferences are broadly representative, the US women’s soccer team should be paid more than the men’s, the US Women’s basketball team less.)

    lurker (59504c)

  14. I agree, lurker. Cash in hand should be commensurate with butts in the seats.

    norcal (5948da)

  15. Best player on USMNT plays for Chelsea

    steveg (e81d76)

  16. FIFA says only 3)5 of womens club teams are profitable and
    “Just 13% of clubs generate revenue over $1 million, and more than half of those revenues come from sponsorship deals”

    I think the USWNT needs to look inside for blame as well. They are the ones that fought for $100,000 base pay win or lose and lower bonus. They also should have fought for more revenue % share from merchandise
    The USMNT opted for lower base pay higher bonus.

    USWNT made a bad deal upfront and then blamed misogyny to get out of it and shakedown $24M.
    Bad behavior rewarded.

    steveg (e81d76)

  17. “FIFA says only 30% of womens clubs are profitable”

    steveg (e81d76)

  18. Lets give equal pay to the WNBA now

    steveg (e81d76)

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