USWNT files appeal in equal pay lawsuit against U.S. Soccer Federation

The U.S. women's national soccer team is fighting two battles right now. One is in Tokyo, where they're fighting for a gold medal. The other is back in the United States, where they're continuing to fight for equal pay.

The USWNT filed their opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, asking the court to reverse the district court's May 2020 decision to dismiss most of their equal pay suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The brief argues that the summary judgment that was issued in May 2020 was inherently flawed and failed to consider the overwhelming evidence that USWNT are underpaid compared to their male counterparts, despite being the most dominant team in international soccer history. The federal judge who heard the case ruled that the USWNT's claims of equal pay weren't sufficient to warrant a trial because they're being paid under the terms of the contract they'd signed.

(From L, front) USA's forward Christen Press, USA's defender Crystal Dunn, USA's defender Becky Sauerbrunn, USA's midfielder Rose Lavelle, USA's defender Kelley O'Hara and (From L, Rear) USA's defender Abby Dahlkemper, USA's forward Alex Morgan, USA's goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, USA's midfielder Lindsey Horan, USA's midfielder Samantha Mewis and USA's forward Tobin Heath pose for a team photo prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women's group G first round football match between Sweden and USA at the Tokyo Stadium in Tokyo on July 21, 2021. (Photo by Yoshikazu TSUNO / AFP) (Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images)
The USWNT is fighting for equal pay while battling for a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images)

USWNT players eager to continue equal pay fight

The USWNT players are more than ready to move forward with the next phase of their equal pay suit.

“There is nothing quite like entering a stadium and hearing thousands of our supporters vigorously chanting ‘Equal Pay,’" said USWNT player Tobin Heath via a statement. "We enter this next phase of our legal fight with the same energy we bring to each of our matches.”

“We are working to ensure that the next generation of women soccer players has the opportunity to play for a federation who truly values their contributions and successes, and treats them as equal to — not less-than — their male counterparts." USWNT player Christen Press said. "Anyone who knows this team knows that we do not give up until we win. That is what you can expect from us on the field — and that is what you can expect from us in our fight for equal pay.”

Former USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe's comments were short, but got right to the point.

“We believe in our case and know our value. It’s time the USSF does too. LFG.”

USSF released a statement on Friday about the USWNT's appeal.

U.S. Soccer is committed to equal pay and to ensuring that our Women’s National Team remains the best in the world.

In ruling in favor of U.S. Soccer on the players’ pay discrimination claims, the District Court rightly noted that the Women’s National Team negotiated for a different pay structure than the Men’s National Team, and correctly held that the Women’s National Team was paid more both cumulatively and on an average per-game basis than the Men’s National Team.

U.S. Soccer is a non-profit with a mission to grow the game for every player, regardless of age, gender or ability level. The focus today is on supporting the Women’s National Team in their quest to win a fifth Olympic Gold Medal. Moving ahead, we will continue to seek a resolution to this matter outside of court so we can chart a positive path forward with the players to grow the game both here at home and around the world.

USWNT already achieved victory on working conditions

The USWNT has already achieved a partial victory in its quest for equal treatment. In December, the USWNT and USSF agreed on a settlement on unequal working conditions. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner — the same judge who dismissed the USWNT's equal pay claims — approved the settlement in April.

The terms of the settlement ensures that the USWNT and the USMNT will have equal access to charter flights, hotel accommodations, venue selection and professional support staff.

That settlement also cleared the way for the USWNT to file Friday's appeal on equal pay.

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