U.S. women soccer champs demand equal wages, conditions

Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:38pm EDT
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By Suzannah Gonzales and Mica Rosenberg

CHICAGO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Five top players for the World Cup champion U.S. women's soccer team have filed a federal wage discrimination complaint claiming they are paid less than male players even though they generate more income for the United States Soccer Federation.

The athletes, including star scorer Carli Lloyd and goalkeeper Hope Solo, claim some of them earn as little as 40 percent of what men's team players make, lawyer Jeffrey Kessler said on Thursday.

In the complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed on Wednesday the players asked for an investigation of the federation, which is the governing body for soccer in the United States and the women's employer.

U.S. Soccer said in a statement that developing women's soccer was a top priority. "We are committed to and engaged in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement that addresses compensation," it said.

The women's team, which has won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, made at least $16 million for the federation in 2015 while the men's team lost money for the entity, Kessler said, citing federation financial records.

The federation did not respond to requests to verify those figures.

The complaint alleges disparities at every level of the sport, from lower compensation for friendly matches and sponsor appearances to smaller travel allowances.

For example, the women earned $2 million for winning the 2015 World Cup while the men earned $9 million after being eliminated from the world's top tournament in 2014, the complaint said.   Continued...

Tim Howard and Carli Lloyd of the men's and women's U.S. soccer teams. REUTERS/Action Images/Jason Cairnduff/USA Today Sports/Thomas B. Shea