The row over equal pay for men and women in sport has deepened after five members of the United States’ women’s football team filed a federal wage discrimination complaint against US Soccer.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo, defender Becky Sauerbrunn, midfielders Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe and striker Alex Morgan have launched the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission following the release of the organisation’s financial figures, which showed the World Cup holders earned far less than their male counterparts.
This comes despite the women’s team, winners of last year’s World Cup in Canada and the reigning Olympic champions, being far more successful than the men’s team and generating $20 million (£14 million/€18 million) more in revenue.
The five players allege that they are being treated unfairly compared to the men’s side, who can earn more in a year than the women regardless of achievements on the pitch.
The women’s side which beat Japan 5-2 in last year’s World Cup final pocketed a total of $2 million (£1.4 million/€1.8 million), while the men were given $9 million for going out in the last 16 at Brazil 2014.
“In other words, the women earned four times less than the men while performing demonstrably better,” the complaint reads.
Male players also receive more than twice than the women when they are selected for the national team as they earn $68,750 (£48,000/€60,000) compared to $30,000 (£21,000/€26,000).
“In this day and age, it’s about equality,” Solo said.
“It’s about equal rights.
“It’s about equal pay.
“We’re pushing for that.
“We believe now the time is right because we believe it’s our responsibility for women’s sports and specifically for women’s soccer to do whatever it takes to push for equal pay and equal rights.
“And to be treated with respect.”
Lloyd, who scored a hat-trick in last year’s World Cup final and was FIFA World Player of the Year in 2015, added: “I think the timing is right.
“I think we’ve proven our worth over the years.
“Just coming off a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large.”
Although only five players are named in the lawsuit, Sauerbrunn insists the complaint has the backing of the whole team.
Jeffrey Kessler, the lawyer for the team, claims it is the “strongest case of discrimination against women athletes in violation of law that I have ever seen” and is confident of a successful outcome in the suit against US Soccer.
It comes after US Soccer filed a lawsuit against the United States’ Women's National Team Players Association in a row over a collective bargaining agreement, in a bid to stop the team striking before their appearance at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The governing body for the sport in the nation said they were “disappointed” with the lawsuit from the five members of the women’s team.
“We are disappointed about this action,” said a spokesman.
“We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”