Mediation over a dispute in pay between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. National Women’s Team dissolved Wednesday with no resolution in sight.
Yahoo News reported Wednesday night that players from the women’s team ended the negotiations, blaming the USSF.
“We entered this week’s mediation with representatives of [U.S. Soccer] full of hope,” said Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for women’s team in their lawsuit. “Today we must conclude these meetings sorely disappointed in the Federation’s determination to perpetuate fundamentally discriminatory workplace conditions and behavior.”
Neil Buethe, spokesman for USSF, countered Levinson’s statement and blamed the women’s team for being obstinate.
“We have said numerous times that our goal is to find a resolution, and during mediation we had hoped we would be able to address the issues in a respectful manner and reach an agreement,” Buethe said in a statement to Yahoo. “Unfortunately, instead of allowing mediation to proceed in a considerate manner, plaintiffs’ counsel took an aggressive and ultimately unproductive approach that follows months of presenting misleading information to the public in an effort to perpetuate confusion.”
The women’s team filed a lawsuit against USSF in March, claiming they received lower bonuses than the men’s team and suffered from “systemic gender-based pay discrimination.” They also said they received less generous travel accommodations and facilities compared to the men’s team.
In June, the women’s team released a statement claiming that the suggestion that the men’s team brings in more revenue and is therefore paid more was false. The women’s team claimed that they actually brought in slightly more revenue than the men’s team – $50.8 million to $49.9 million. The team looked at the past three years. Looking at more seasons, it became clear that the women’s team only out-earned the men’s team in one year, and the gap was close in the other two years.
At the end of July, USSF produced a “fact sheet” that included an expanded time frame, showing that the women’s team has only recently caught up to the men’s team in revenue. Further, the USSF claimed the women’s team had actually lost millions of dollars over the past 10 years. USSF also pointed out that the women’s team receives a guaranteed base salary for the season and an additional guaranteed base salary for playing in the National Women’s Soccer League. They also receive game bonuses, health insurance, a retirement plan, injury protection and maternity leave. The men’s team only receives game bonuses, which are higher than what the women’s team receives because that’s their only compensation.
Also, each team negotiates their own pay and benefits as part of a collective-bargaining agreement, meaning any disputes are the fault of those who negotiated and accepted the deal. The women’s collective-bargaining agreement is due for review in 2021, and since women’s soccer has become more popular in recent years, they will likely have more ground to stand on revenue-wise.
Following the breakdown in mediation, the dispute will now go to trial, according to Yahoo.
“We want all of our fans, sponsors, peers around the world, and women everywhere to know we are undaunted and will eagerly look forward to a jury trial,” the team’s attorney, Molly Levinson told the outlet.
USSF spokesman Neil Buethe also said USSF was “undaunted in our efforts to continue discussions in good faith.”
A trial would allow the American people to find out who is telling the truth when it comes to compensation.