US women’s football team pledge to continue equal pay fight

Players on the US women’s national team say they will appeal after federal judge throws out unequal pay claim.

Soccer Football - Women''s World Cup Final - United States v Netherlands - Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France - July 7, 2019 Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. lifts the trophy as she celebrates winning the Women''s
The US women's national team beat the Netherlands to claim their fourth World Cup title in summer 2019 [File: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters]

The US women’s football team has pledged to fight on in their battle for equal pay after a judge rejected their claim that they were being unfairly treated.

Players led by Alex Morgan had sued in March 2019, asking for more than $66m in damages under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In a 32-page decision Friday, US District Judge R Gary Klausner handed out a victory to the US Soccer Federation by throwing out players’ claims that they were underpaid in comparison with the men’s national team.

“The WNT (Women’s National Team) has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the MNT (Men’s National Team) over the class period,” the court said in its summary judgement.

The judge, however, also ruled that players’ claims they do not receive equal treatment as the men when it comes to travel, training, housing and other areas could proceed. The trial date is set for June 16.

Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players, said they planned to appeal the decision.

“We are shocked and disappointed,” said Levinson. “We will not give up our hard work for equal pay.

“We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.”

US Soccer released a statement on Friday saying it wanted to work with the team to “chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world”.

“US Soccer has long been the world leader for the women’s game on and off the field and we are committed to continuing that work,” the federation said.

The women’s national team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to claim their fourth World Cup title in July 2019, as the stadium rang with chants of, “Equal Pay, Equal Pay,” catapulting its players into the spotlight.

Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe, who on Thursday appeared with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a livestreamed event, tweeted: “We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY.”

Forward Tobin Heath wrote on social media: “This team never gives up and we’re not going to start now.”

The US national team’s long-running feud with US Soccer has been a very public and bitter battle, with athletes and celebrities, from Billie Jean King to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rallying around the women’s cause.

Last month, US Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro resigned over language used in a court filing suggesting women possess less ability than men when it comes to football.

The language prompted an on-field protest by players, who wore their warm-up jerseys inside out to obscure the US Soccer logo prior to a game, and a critical response from several of the team’s commercial sponsors.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies