The debate about gender equality has flared up in the world of soccer this week. After controversy ignited last week during the Indian Wells tennis tournament, members of the U.S. Women’s National Team are drawing attention to discrimination in their own sport.
This morning, some of the team’s star athletes appeared on the “Today” show to discuss a complaint they have filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The complaint, led by Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Rebecca Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan, calls for an investigation of U.S. Soccer, which they say vastly underpays the female players, even though they are the more successful team in the organization.
In the interview with Matt Lauer, Lloyd said, “I think that we’ve proven our worth over the years. Just coming off of a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. And we want to continue to fight.”
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She added that previous women’s players have tried to address this issue in the past with little results. “Now it’s our job to keep fighting,” said Lloyd.
According to reports, the female athletes earn about 40 percent of what male players earn, in spite of the fact that the women’s team won last year’s World Cup and four Olympic gold medals. By comparison, the best recent accomplishment by the men’s national team was a quarterfinal spot in the 2002 World Cup.
The EEOC complaint particularly highlights the vast differences in U.S. Soccer’s bonus structure, which will pay each female athlete $15,000 if the team makes the World Cup roster, while the male athletes receive $76,ooo each. And a win at the World Cup will result in $9.3 million for the entire men’s team, but only $1.8 million for the women’s team.
A statement issued by the U.S. Soccer Federation said, “While we have not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we are disappointed about this action. We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”