The US Women’s National Soccer Team has settled a lawsuit it filed against its employer last year, resolving the World Cup champions’ claim on unequal working conditions.
Under the settlement, which was outlined in court documents filed Tuesday, the US Soccer Federation agreed to adopt and enforce several policies providing charter flight resources, hotel accommodations, playing venues, field surfaces, and support services that are equal to those of the men’s team.
“We are pleased that the USWNT Players have fought for — and achieved — long overdue equal working conditions,” Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the players, said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
The agreement does not resolve the women’s unequal pay claim that galvanized fans and the public as they embarked on the journey to a record-fourth World Cup win in 2019. That claim was dismissed earlier this year when a judge ruled that the players had insufficient evidence to bring the key component of their lawsuit to trial.
Levinson said that now that the working conditions claim has been resolved, the players will move forward with their plans to appeal the court’s May 1 ruling on their unequal pay claim.
“We remain as committed as ever to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve,” Levinson said. “Our focus is on the future and ensuring we leave the game a better place for the next generation of women who will play for this team and this country.”
In March 2019, 28 members of the 2015 women’s team sued the federation over gender discrimination. In the complaint, the players accused their governing body of shortchanging them in pay and working conditions when compared to the men’s national team — which has not played nearly as well, did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and has not attracted anywhere close to the record ratings and audiences as their women counterparts.
While the women’s and men’s teams are compensated through different pay structures (the women get fixed salaries while the men are only paid if they play), the women have argued that the total compensation for the men’s team is greater because the bonuses the men receive are so much larger.
As the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in the spring, the federation came under fire for arguing in legal filings that women athletes are less skilled and work less-demanding jobs than their male counterparts.
The comments sparked a protest from the players, who wore their warm-up jerseys inside out, hiding the US Soccer crest before their March 11 match against Japan, as well as retribution from major sponsors. Hours after the protest, Carlos Cordeiro, then the president of US Soccer, resigned.
Tuesday’s filing comes days after the women’s national team played its first game since March in the Netherlands, a rematch of the 2019 World Cup final against the Dutch team. Despite not having played together in months, the US team’s players appeared to be in peak form, decisively winning the match 2–0.
“This settlement is good news for everyone and I believe will serve as a springboard for continued progress,” US Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone said in a statement.
Parlow Cone, a member of the 1999 World Cup champion team, became the first woman to lead the federation in March following Cordeiro’s resignation.
“As a former USWNT player, I can promise you that I am committed to equality between the USWNT and USMNT,” she said. “My goal is, and has always been, to come to a resolution on all equal pay matters and inspire a new era of collaboration, partnership and trust between the USWNT and the Federation.”