The United States women’s football team could consider boycotting this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro if the equal pay dispute with the country’s governing body is not resolved, vice-captain Becky Sauerbrunn has claimed.
Sauerbrunn, part of last year’s World Cup winning squad, was among the group of players to file a Federal wage discrimination complaint against US Soccer earlier this month.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo, defender Sauerbrunn, midfielders Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe and striker Alex Morgan 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.
Sauerbrunn was a member of the American side which won the Olympic gold medal at London 2012 but she says they are not guaranteed to travel to Brazil to defend their title.
“It [an Olympic boycott] would still be on the table,” the 30-year-old, who has made 105 appearances for her country during her career, told ESPNW.
“We are reserving every right to do so and we’re leaving every avenue open.
“If nothing has changed and we don’t feel any progress has been made, then it’s a conversation that we’re going to have.”
Sauerbrunn claimed she hoped the situation can be concluded and that US Soccer start seeing the “worth and value” the women’s team has to offer.
“The outcome, I hope, is equal pay for equal play,” she added.
“I think, compensation-wise and respect-wise, that’s what I’m really hoping comes out of this complaint.
“I hope that it puts enough pressure on the Federation, to show them our worth and our value.
“Hopefully also, from there, other people put enough pressure on U.S. Soccer if the complaint doesn’t fall in our favour.
“Hopefully that’s the ending point.”
The move to boycott the Olympics, where the US women have won four of the five gold medals on offer since the sport was added to the programme at Atlanta 1996, could cause a further schism between the team and the Federation as the bitter row continues.
It emerged when five players alleged 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 earned 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).