U.S. Soccer Federation

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USWNT counters soccer federation’s assertions on pay

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U.S. Soccer was misleading when it asserted some players for the women’s national team made more money than their male counterparts, the women’s team players said in court documents filed Monday.

The players say in the documents that the men’s pay would have been far greater if they’d had the same success on the field as the women.

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The filing was a response to a U.S. Soccer motion opposing the players’ request to certify a lawsuit seeking equitable pay as a class-action. The women asked a court last month to include all players called up to the national team, which could increase the class to more than 50 players.

Twenty-eight players, including stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, were part of the original suit filed against U.S. Soccer in March alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation between the men’s and women’s teams. A May 5 trial date has been set in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The federation has maintained that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result. Men’s team players are paid largely by appearance and performance, while the contract for the women’s team includes provisions for health care and other benefits, as well as salaries in the National Women’s Soccer League.

U.S. Soccer further argued last week that four players – Morgan, Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn – were each paid more than the highest-paid player on the men’s national team in four years over the period between 2014 and 2019. The four earned more even when NWSL salaries weren’t included, the motion said.

U.S. Soccer said because those players made more, they lack the standing to represent a class.

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“The women chose to have a guaranteed salary of up to $172,500 per year, and in addition to this salary, they earn game and tournament bonuses, and receive a robust package of benefits. While the players on our men’s national team can earn larger bonuses, they take more risk as they do not receive any guaranteed money or benefits within their pay-for-play contract structure,” U.S Soccer said in a statement.

The women’s filing Monday said the only reason those four players were able to earn more was “they worked in far more games, had far greater success and thus were able to earn more money in salary and bonuses even under the indisputably discriminatory set of the USSF’s compensation policies.” It said this didn’t constitute equal pay.

The players’ response maintains that the four players were paid less than one-third of what a male counterpart would have made if the men’s team had been as successful over the same period.

“This is the very definition of gender discrimination, which is illegal. USSF has repeatedly tried to distort these figures – including by hiring lobbyists, creating PowerPoint presentations with false data, trying to blame FIFA, and purposely manipulating the equation. But the math is simple: when the rates from the men’s CBA are applied to each woman player’s record and performance, the results show an unmistakably large pay gap,” said Molly Levinson, who represents the players in matters surrounding the lawsuit.

The women’s team won this year’s World Cup in France and had additional games leading up to the tournament, including qualification matches. The women also won the World Cup in 2015. The team played in victory tour matches following those World Cup titles.

The men’s team, meanwhile, did not make the field for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and had fewer matches and therefore fewer call-ups and training camps from 2017-18. The team has also transitioned to new coach Gregg Berhalter, who was hired last December.

USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

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LOS ANGELES (AP) A judge has set a May 5 trial date for the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team against U.S. Soccer.

District Judge R. Gary Klausner assigned the date at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles, which came less than a week after mediation between the two sides broke down.

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The players sued U.S. Soccer in March, alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation when compared with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The federation claims that compensation for each team is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements, and that the pay structures are different as a result.

The sides had agreed to mediate the dispute after this summer’s World Cup in France. The U.S. beat the Netherlands in July for its second straight title, and fourth overall.

The players and U.S. Soccer had requested a trial date after the Tokyo Olympics, which start July 25.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

U.S. Soccer promotes Stewart, hires alum Markgraf as USWNT GM

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The United States Soccer Federation is staying on brand and promoting from within.

USMNT general manager and program legend Earnie Stewart has been elevated to sporting director for the entire federation, and 201-times capped USWNT defender Kate Markgraf has been named general manager for the women’s program.

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“This is a great day for the Federation and for soccer in America,” said U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro in a press release. “In Earnie Stewart and Kate Markgraf, we’re keeping our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts.”

“With Earnie as sporting director and Kate as the first general manager of our women’s national team, we have the leaders in place to align our technical approach, develop the next generation of players and win championships.”

That means that Stewart, 50, will be in charge of hiring his replacement.

Like most things with U.S. Soccer, both of these hires need to come with tempered response and not be held against the hires themselves.

Stewart was a force for the USMNT as a player and his post-playing career has been impressive, with stints as technical directors for NAC Breda and AZ Alkmaar in the Eredivisie before taking a similar post with the Philadelphia Union.

Markgraf’s resume is less traditional for the post. According to U.S. Soccer, her post-playing career has included acquiring two graduate degrees, working as a broadcast analyst — including with NBC Sports — and volunteered with four D-I women’s programs in the NCAA. Most intriguing, however, is how her academic research will play into her philosophy on developing the women’s program.

She holds two graduate degrees: a Master’s in Kinesiology and a Master’s in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research on elite athletes and the influence of Grit, a psychological metric predictive of success in elite domains, was the first of its kind and was published, with her as the co-author with her advisor, in the top Sport Psychology Academic Journal, the Journal of American Sport Psychology.

Again, two resumes worthy of acclaim, but how far did U.S. Soccer go in the interview process. That will be the key question for president Carlos Cordeiro when he joins Stewart and Markgraf on a conference call with the media at 5 p.m. ET Monday as the USSF has made some good resume hires for Stewart’s last post and the USMNT head coaching position, only to see the process scrutinized for only looking within the family. That’s also plagued the delayed hunt for a new CEO, which has inspired fan and employee protestation at the idea of elevating the USMNT head coach’s brother to the top of the organization.

Ellis stepping down as USWNT coach

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Two-time World Cup champion Jill Ellis is going out on top.

Ellis, 52, is stepping away from the United States women’s national team after 127 matches and a 102W-7L-18D record since 2014.

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The Portsmouth, England native won everything but Olympic gold with the USWNT, and was named the 2015 Women’s World Coach of the Year.

In a statement, U.S. Soccer announced that Ellis will stay with the team through the victory tour and then moved into an ambassador’s role. It also says the new USWNT general manager’s hiring is “imminent.”

From USSoccer.com:

“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said. “I want to thank and praise them for their commitment and passion to not only win championships but also raise the profile of this sport globally while being an inspiration to those who will follow them. I want to sincerely thank the world class coaches and staff with whom I’ve had the privilege to work – they are quintessential professionals and even better people. And finally, I want to thank the Federation for their support and investment in this program, as well as all the former players, coaches, and colleagues that have played an important role in this journey.”

Ellis sometimes confounded with her lineup choices, but ultimately did a masterful job navigating the deepest squad pool and group of egos in the world. She transitioned the USWNT from a side focused on Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd to a group that utilized a more complete attack, and won World Cups with both Wambach and Lloyd accepting super sub roles.

Who the USSF chooses to take her place will have a gigantic hill to climb, as Europe is investing heavily in women’s soccer and the sport is as competitive as ever. The new coach will also have to help keep the USWNT on track on the field as it battles the federation for equal pay and conditions.

Senator introduces USWNT equal pay bill after letter from NCAA coach

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A letter from the women’s soccer coach at West Virginia University has spurred a politician to act on behalf of the United States women’s national team.

The Mountaineers’ head coach for nearly a quarter century, Nikki Izzo-Brown wrote the missive to senator Joe Manchin following the USWNT’s fourth World Cup title, and Manchin is taking a political step in response.

[ MORE: Takeaways from USWNT win ]

Manchin has introduced a bill on the Senate floor which says federal funding for hosting the 2026 World Cup will be withheld until the USWNT is paid on equal terms with the men.

According to a Huffington Post report, the money would normally go to host cities, U.S. Soccer, CONCACAF, and FIFA.

Here’s Manchin (from NBC News):

“The clear unequitable pay between the U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry,” Senator Manchin said. “They are the best in the world and deserve to be paid accordingly.”

Many noted the “equal pay” chants at the World Cup final, and the USWNT has been trying to force the issue for some time.

The other part of this is that the USWNT is believed to currently be in negotiations with the federation about equal pay, and 2026 is a long way in the future. Also, it would seem likely the bill would be deemed a political ploy in the Senate, but hey, it’s something.

The news comes on the night that USWNT star Megan Rapinoe is making the rounds on several national news programs including MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”