Tim Howard gave a slightly diplomatic but very honest answer when asked about the news breaking from the U.S. women’s national team on Thursday.
On Thursday morning it was revealed that five star names from the USWNT — Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan — filed a claim of wage discrimination against U.S. Soccer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The USWNT is looking for equal pay with the U.S. men’s national team after financial reports from 2015 revealed that the USMNT could earn up to four times more than their female counterparts with appearance and bonus fees.
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Howard — who is heading back to Major League Soccer with the Colorado Rapids this July — was speaking on ESPN Sportscenter on Thursday and the current Everton and USMNT goalkeeper had the following to say when asked about the lawsuit from the USWNT.
“We support the fact that the women should fight for their rights and fight what they think is just compensation,” Howard said. “We, on the men’s side, have been fighting that battle for a long, long time and we certainly know what it feels like. We felt underpaid for a long time and we had to negotiate our way to a settlement.”
Now, Howard and his U.S. teammates are in an awkward position.
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Many of them are close friends with the USWNT players and maybe they privately support their battle for equal pay but many of the men’s players may find it difficult to come out and publicly support the U.S. women’s team in their battle against U.S. Soccer, the governing body which controls both teams.
Howard handled this question with class and grace, but let’s see if his feelings are matched by the rest of the USMNT and if they take a stand with the USWNT.
The most likely outcome is that the USMNT players stay relatively quiet and wait for the legal proceedings to play out. That could take months and the U.S. Soccer Federation has already launched legal proceedings of their own, as the believe the USWNT is still under contract until the end of 2016 when USSF says the current collective bargaining agreement ends. The women’s side dispute this.