World Champions USWNT have had enough of sexism

With 3 World Cup titles and 4 Olympic Gold medals, the US Women's National Team are the most successful team in women's football and the most successful team for the US Soccer Federation.  

Despite all the silverware, the team has seen a pay gap between the US Men's National Team and the USWNT increase over the years and, this week, they said enough.  

On Thursday (US time) five senior players filed a claim with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charging wage discrimination by US Soccer. 

The world no. 1 are now in a battle to stop being no. 2 within their federation. 

The Leaders

Five players including co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, star striker Alex Morgan, goalkeeper Hope Solo and midfielder Megan Rapinoe have filed the claim with the EEOC.  


With over 730 international caps between them, these five players have been the backbone of the team on the pitch and are now the leaders in the pay battle off the pitch.

Today, I joined my teammates to file an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions, accusing the US Soccer...

Posted by Alex Morgan on Thursday, March 31, 2016

And while there may be only the five names on the filed documents, they certainly not going it alone.


The Complaint

The EEOC complaint says in not offering equal remuneration for the MNT and WNT, U.S. Soccer is not complying with federal law, particularly in light of the performance of the women's team and the revenue generated.  

So how big is the pay gap?

The players contend in the filing that the WNT members are paid almost four times less than their male counterparts.   

Sports Illustrated obtained the full figures and breakdown below

Payment situation



Friendlies (per player, vs. teams not in FIFA's top 25, excluding Mexico)

$1,350 for a win

$9,375 for a win;
$6,250 for a tie;
$5,000 for a loss 

Friendlies (per player, vs. teams ranked 11-25, excluding Mexico)

$1,350 for a win

$12,500 for a win;
$6,250 for a tie;
$5,000 for a loss

Friendlies (per player, vs. teams ranked 1-10 and Mexico)

$1,350 for a win

$17,625 for a win;
$8,125 for a tie;
$5,000 for a loss

World Cup roster bonus

$15,000 per player WCQ match bonus;
$15,000 per player WC roster bonus

$68,750 per player

World Cup qualifiers


$12,500 per player per win; $6,000 per player per draw; $4,000 per player per loss

World Cup qualification


$2,500,000 split among team player pool

World Cup per game payment


$6,875 per player, regardless of result

World Cup first round points bonus


$218,750 to team player pool per point earned

World Cup second round advancement bonus


$4,500,000 split among team player pool

World Cup fourth place bonus



World Cup third place bonus


$1,250,000 to team player pool

World Cup second place bonus


$6,250,000 to team player pool

World Cup champion bonus


$9,375,000 to team player pool

Player in World Cup training camp, not game roster



Per Diem

$50/domestic venue; $60/international 

$62.50 domestic; 
$75 international

Sponsor appearance fee



Attendance ticket revenue bonus



Post-World Cup victory tour (number of games dependent on WC outcome; tour dependent on WC finish)

$1.8M for team player pool for finishing first in World Cup;
$6,750 per player for finishing second;
$6,250 per player for finishing third



But isn't pay in line with the revenue generated by the team? 

When it comes to the remuneration of women's sport, the economics are often cited as a reason for any pay gap.  

In this case the USWNT argues that in 2015, by US Soccer's own financial reports, the team had generated approx. $18 million for the federation.  

That's a lot of numbers but in short the FY15 numbers looked like this. 







$17.6 M

$6.3 M

$6.2 M

+5.188 million


$9.0 M

$7.7 M



(Source: US Soccer AGM Report

Even with those numbers, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati has fired back via teleconference saying that over a 4 year World Cup cycle, the women’s team does not generate as much revenue as the men’s team. 

Further, it was stated that the men’s team in this particular cycle, the men’s team has generated twice as much revenue. 

“I’d reverse the question: Do you think revenue should matter at all in determination of compensation in a market economy?,” said Gulati when asked SI's Grant Wahl if Gulati thought the USWNT deserved equal pay.

“If we look at the track record of teams, a lot of different things go into the compensation for the players … Part of it is based on revenue, part of it is based on revenues that accrue from international competitions, part of it is based on incentives and the performance of the teams.”

Moving on up

Even if past figures show less revenue there is no denying that the revenue from the USWNT is on a fast upward trend.  

US Soccer agrees, with the USWNT a significant part of their budgeting for the next year. 

All these calculations don't even account for the prestige the program provides to US Soccer, particularly at time when the men's national team is struggling and the US U23 missed out on qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games leaving the 3x defending gold medallist USWNT as the sole football representative. 

The US Soccer Response

As you would expect, the response from US Soccer has been swift with the federation citing their history of supporting the women's program.  

The response was met with some lukewarm reactions, including from co-captain Sauerbrunn.  

As to the question of revenue, along with Gulati’s statements above, a US Soccer spokesperson disagreed with the figures provided in the ECOC complaint saying:

“The numbers provided in the complaint at times are inaccurate, misleading or both. And looking at a single year doesn’t provide the entire picture."

"If you look at four or eight years cumulatively, the men’s national team revenues are almost twice that of the women’s national team.”

The US Soccer spokesman also contended that in the four year period between 2011 to 2015, the U.S. men had an average home crowd of 29,781 to USWNT's 16,229.  

Finally, in relation to sponsorship and TV revenue, US Soccer were unable to provide those figures as they collectively bargained those contracts with sponsors and networks but Gulati stated the men's team currently rated significantly better than the women's team.

“It’s not 10 or 20 or 30 or 50 percent higher, it’s a multiple right now on the men’s program versus the women’s program,” he concluded.

The Reaction

The complaint of the USWNT has certainly made waves in the US and internationally with the dispute hitting the headlines from the Washington Post, USA Today to Orlando and even the New York Times

With the claims and counterclaims flying around, one thing is clear, the successful women's national team is definitely ahead in the PR battle.  

From politicians to celebrities, fans and even one or two MNT players, the USWNT has had overwhelming support.  

The Matildas have also put forward their support for the team following the USWNT's supporting during the Matildas own pay fight with the FFA. 

It hasn't all been positive reaction, including from retired men's national team forward Landon Donovan. 

Although the former US star did finish on a positive note?


The Resolution

To fire up the legalese for a moment, the players have alleged that, in playing them less than MNT players, US Soccer as breached the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and, in particular, Title VII. 

Title VII deals with employer discrimination of workers on the basis of gender.  

With the complaint filed, the next steps will be taken by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  

These include: 

An EEOC investigator appointed

EEOC investigator requesting information (or compelling via subpoena) from both parties including employment records, payment calculation records, previous contracts and agreements and more

The EEOC investigator may order mediation or arbitration between the parties to see if a resolution can be found or the EEOC investigator will make their own determination

If there is a finding of "probable cause" (meaning US has breached the law), the EEOC will assist the parties in attempting to find a mutually acceptable settlement

If that process breaks down, then the EEOC or the players may then file a discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer within 90 days - which could mean many more years of legal action

If there is no finding of "probable cause", then the filing will be dismissed, although the players will still have the ability to commence their own legal action

The whole process could take up to 12 months, so there is still a long way to go in this one.  

In the meantime, the USWNT will continue their preparations to defend their Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 gold medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August.