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USWNT vow to fight on after equal pay lawsuit setback

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USWNT stars have been responding to the shock decision from a judge who dismissed their unequal pay lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF).

A judge favored the U.S. Soccer Federation in a summary judgment, saying that the USWNT’s claim that they were being paid less than the USMNT was insufficient to warrant a trial. The judge also ruled against the USWNT lawsuit when it came to their claim about playing on artificial turf rather than grass but is yet to rule on their complaints regarding travel and player care not being on an equal level to the USMNT.

The decision is a huge shock, as the USWNT players who filed the lawsuit were asking for $66 million in damages from USSF.

USWNT spokeswoman Molly Levinson said the women will immediately appeal the decision and speaking to ABC’s Good Morning America, USWNT stars Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan both vowed to continue the fight.

“Shocked, to be honest, I was very shocked with the ruling and the explanation given,” Rapinoe said. “Basically it is like if I earn one dollar every time I play and a man earns three dollars, just because I win 10 games and he only wins three games, I earn 10 dollars and he only earns nine dollars, I’m not sure that is me making more money while having to essential win everything we could have possibly won over these past few years. For me it missed the point and it was very disappointing.”

Morgan added: “We are fighting for all of it. We are just shocked. This decision was out of left field for us and for both sides it was unexpected. We will definitely be appealing this and if anybody knows anything about the heart of this team, we are fighters and we will continue to fight together for this.”

Rapinoe admitted that the USWNT have earned more than the USMNT over a certain period of time, but they’ve played in more games and they were never offered the same CBA deal as the USMNT by USSF.

“If we were under the men’s contract we would be making three times more. You can look at the total compensation but in that time period we’ve won two World Cups and just about every game we’ve played. The rate of pay is just so different. It is so frustrating. So many women go through this,” Rapinoe said.

U.S. Soccer were slammed by Joe Biden, the presumptive democratic candidate in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. He sent out a tweet on Saturday showing his support for the USWNT in their battle against the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay with the USMNT.

“To the USWNT: don’t give up this fight. This is not over yet. To U.S. Soccer: equal pay, now. Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding,” Biden said.

Morgan added that although this was a setback, the USWNT remain strong and determined.

“This is definitely a hurdle in the road but nothing that is going to stop or deter us from what we’ve always been true to. That is true equality within the sport. We are still feeling optimistic and we will get through this,” Morgan said.

Report: U.S. Soccer in perilous financial situation

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According to a report the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) is in a terrible financial situation and have applied for and been granted a government loan to help them get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Jeff Carlisle of ESPN states that the USSF had cash reserves of $160 million in the summer of 2016 but that has decreased to just $40 million and there are now “anticipating significant revenue shortfalls as a result of postponed or canceled games.”

Add in the fact that USSF is expecting to have to settle with the USWNT in their equal pay lawsuit — the USWNT are asking for $66 million in damages — in the coming months and the recent job losses and program cuts are starting to make sense.

The government loan which USSF has been granted will at least stop the bleeding, as the loan will not have to be paid back as long as it is used for payroll, mortgage interest, rent and utility costs for an eight-week period right after it was applied for.

New USSF CEO Will Wilson has taken a 50 percent pay cut just a few weeks into the job and said it “became quickly apparent that the status quo was not sustainable for the economic viability of the Federation.”

Senior staff have been fired, over 50 job cuts occurred and 12 youth national teams have been cut until at least 2021.

It is quite clear the USSF is in a tough spot.

Some cynics may argue that the severity of the situation may be exaggerated as the costly and lengthy legal battle with the USWNT continues and USSF may want to try and make it seem like they have very little in the way of cash to offer the players fighting for legal battle.

With the lawsuit recently seeing USSF president Carlos Cordeiro step down amid a furore over the language used in the lawsuit, it is clear that U.S. Soccer are in a very tough spot and face even tougher times ahead.

U.S. Soccer shuts down some youth national teams, announces widespread cuts

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The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) has announced wide range of cuts amid the current coronavirus pandemic.

New CEO Will Wilson has made some huge decisions just a few weeks into his tenure as the new leading figure of USSF, as the Development Academy program has been cut, while he has also confirmed that youth national teams not involved in any upcoming competitions will be suspended until 2021.

Wilson, the CEO and General Secretary, also revealed a reorganization of senior staff as job cuts have been made, while the majority of USSF staff have been furloughed and added that after arriving at USSF a few weeks ago it “became quickly apparent that the status quo was not sustainable for the economic viability of the federation.”

It is believed key senior members of the board Brian Remedi and Tonya Wallach have both been fired by U.S. Soccer during the reorganization, as Wilson has taken a 50 percent pay cut to help improve the financial health of the governing body.

Here is the statement in full:

I truly hope you, your families and your organization are doing as well as possible during these unprecedented times. The effect COVID-19 has had on our lives is unlike anything any of us have ever experienced. While this is just the second time I have had the opportunity to communicate with you directly, I wish it was with better news. Like most businesses across the country, U.S. Soccer has not been immune to the unanticipated and harsh economic impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Upon officially joining the organization just over two weeks ago, it became quickly apparent that the status quo was not sustainable for the economic viability of the Federation. After extensive discussion, we concluded that we needed to act quickly and decisively in order to not put the Federation in financial peril in the coming years.

Every decision we make is guided by the best interests of all our members, and the millions of players, coaches and referees across the country. We also want to ensure that we do not compromise our efforts to broadly support our members and our National Teams. That is why we recently announced a number of incredibly difficult decisions, including discontinuing the Development Academy program for both the girls and boys, reducing our Youth National Team programming and, taking the painful step of reducing staff that has worked so incredibly hard for U.S. Soccer.

I made these tough, but necessary recommendations to our Board earlier in the week and both they and U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone gave me their support. Please know that these decisions were not taken lightly.

Development academy program

We know that discontinuing our support of the Development Academy will have a significant impact across the elite youth soccer ecosystem. While the timing is difficult, unprecedented times required us to act now, and we are committed to doing as much as we can to assist during these extremely challenging times. It won’t be easy at first, but I’m confident we will find a way through it together.

At U.S. Soccer, we will also be looking at other ways to positively impact youth development moving forward, including an increased emphasis on coaching education, a more comprehensive scouting effort, and working with clubs to maintain and expand the philosophy and standards established through the Development Academies.

Youth national team programming

Since the pandemic hit, we have been scaling back our Youth National Team programming and will continue to do so for the balance of 2020, with the possible exception of those teams involved in actual competitions. Along with Concacaf and FIFA, we will continue to monitor the possible staging of those competitions relative to the changing global COVID-19 landscape.

Staff layoffs, Furloughs and pay cuts

The layoffs and furloughs were another challenging part of these decisions. Like all of you, these are people that have been incredibly dedicated and have contributed endless hours to help soccer grow in this country.  This process also includes a few organizational changes I have made upon coming into my role.  Additionally, I have decided to take a 50 percent pay cut during this period of economic uncertainty.

Finally, I know this has had a profound personal impact on all of us, and I want to express our gratitude to every single one of you for everything that you do each and every day for the good of the game. At the same time, I ask you to join with us in looking towards the future with confidence and optimism. We are stronger together, and if we can stand side-by-side through these tough times there is much we can do to positively impact the sport and take it to new and unimagined heights.

US Soccer, women’s players at odds over ‘equal pay’ offer

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NEW YORK — The U.S. Soccer Federation says it has offered the women’s national team equal pay to male counterparts for matches under USSF control but maintains the women want bonuses for tournaments such as the World Cup to match those of the men.

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The women disputed the USSF account, saying the federation proposed to match rates the men had under their labor deal that expired in December 2018 and the USSF offer was for only for a portion of the women under contract.

“Since extending this offer, we have made multiple attempts to meet with the WNT to discuss these new options,” USSF President Carlos Corderio wrote Saturday night in a letter to federation friends and supporters. “So far, they have repeatedly declined our invitation to meet on the premise that our proposal does not include U.S. Soccer agreeing to make up the difference in future prize money awarded by FIFA for the Men’s and Women’s World Cups.”

Players on the U.S. women’s national team are seeking more than $66 million in damages as part of their gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF, which is scheduled for a trial starting May 5 at U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Cordeiro’s letter was released a day before the American women play Spain in a pre-Olympic prep event called the SheBelieves Cup.

“The USSF letter is riddled with falsehoods and issued on the eve of the SheBelieves game, which demonstrates that it is more important to USSF to diminish the women’s team than it is to support them on the field,” players spokeswoman Molly Levinson said in a statement. “USSF did not and has never offered equal pay to the women players.”

FIFA awarded $400 million in prize money for the 2018 men’s World Cup, including $38 million to champion France, and $30 million for last year’s Women’s World Cup, including $4 million to the U.S. after the Americans won their second straight title. FIFA has increased the total to $440 million for the 2022 men’s World Cup and FIFA President Gianni Infantino has proposed FIFA double the women’s prize money to $60 million for 2023.

FIFA pays bonuses to national federations, which each makes its own deal with its players.

Cordeiro said the USSF also had responsibility to invest in youth national teams and other programs, such as player, coach and referee development.

“There is indeed a significant difference in World Cup prize money awarded by FIFA to the men’s and women’s championship teams,” Cordeiro wrote. “However, it is not reasonable or fiscally sound for U.S. Soccer to make up the gap. It would seriously impair our ability to support our mission and invest in these other critical developmental areas.”

The women have a labor contract covering 2017-21. The deal for the men expired at the end of 2018.

Levison criticized the USSF for asking that talks be confidential, then issuing a statement with its view of talks.

“There is no compromising on equal pay,” she said. “Equal is equal.”

The USSF repeatedly has pointed out women’s national team players have benefits the men do not, including guaranteed annual salaries, medical and dental insurance, child-care assistance, and pregnancy and parental leave.

USWNT seek over $66 million in damages from U.S. Soccer

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Players on the USWNT are seeking more than $66 million in damages as part their gender discrimination suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, part of a slew of court papers filed Thursday night ahead of a scheduled May trial.

Among the dozens of documents entered into the case record in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles were the separate collective bargaining agreements of the U.S. men’s and women’s teams. They showed a disparity in bonuses but also highlighted the different structures of the deals, including guaranteed salaries for the women and benefits the men do not receive from the federation.

The estimate of damages, including interest, was provided by Finnie Bevin Cook, an economist from Deiter Consulting Group, which was retained by the suing players.

As part of the preparation for a May 5 trial in the class-action suit, both sides revealed parts of pre-trial depositions.

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe, the reigning FIFA Player of the Year, said during a Jan. 16 deposition that Russell Sawyer, an outside lawyer for the USSF, stated during a bargaining session in June 2016 that “market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men.”

USSF President Carlos Cordeiro was asked during a Jan. 29 deposition about a statement he made when campaigning that “our female players have not been treated equally.”

“I felt then and I still feel to a degree, that the lack of opportunity for our female players was really what was at the root of some of their issues,” Cordeiro said. “The fact that the Women’s World Cup generates a fraction of revenue and a fraction of what the men get paid is a reflection, frankly, of lack of opportunity. … Women’s soccer outside of the United States doesn’t have the same degree of respect.”

Former USSF President Sunil Gulati, speaking during a Dec. 17 deposition, was questioned about the different competition the women and men face.

“One of which is the level of the opponent; two is where is the game played; three is how many of those opponents you have to play against to get to a certain level; four, which is really a combination of two of those, is how many other teams in the world are playing at any level that could give you a competitive match,” Gulati said.

“LeBron James doesn’t get a bonus for getting 15 points and for the Lakers finishing out the playoffs,” he added. “The expectations for him are different based on who they’re playing against, what – who he is, what the level is.”

Gulati said he read depositions in that case that discussed the distinctions between men’s and women’s soccer.

“There is an absolute difference, which not everyone seemed to agree to, but do I think that it’s less attractive or less entertaining? I’m not saying that. Or relative quality, I’m not saying that,” he said. “But I’m also not saying, in terms of absolute level of — whether it’s speed or strength, they’re the same. I think most people would accept that, too.”

A USMNT player who was on the roster for all 16 qualifiers during the failed effort to reach the 2018 World Cup earned $179,375 in payments from the U.S. Soccer Federation.

A USWNT player received $52,500 for being on the roster for the five World Cup qualifiers last year plus $147,500 for her time at the World Cup, including a $37,500 roster bonus and $110,000 for winning the title in France.

The USSF keeps 16-21 women’s players under contract in each year of the current labor deal, which runs through 2021, and pays each a $100,000 salary. The federation also pays a minimum 22 players assigned to a club in the National Women’s Soccer League, with each receiving $72,500 to $77,500 this year.

Women receive 75% of salary on maternity leave for up to one year, and a player has the longer of three months or two training camps to return to full fitness. A player can receive 75% of salary for up to three months when adopting a child and a $50 daily stipend for child care during training and play. The USSF also pays for health, dental and vision insurance for the women.

When the men last qualified for the World Cup in 2014, their player pool got a $2 million payment, and each player earned $55,000 for making the roster and $5,500 per match. The player pool earned $175,000 per point for the group phase, a total of $700,000, plus $3.6 million for reaching the round of 16.

The USSF in its filing pointed out it received $9 million from FIFA for the men reaching the second round of the 2014 World Cup, but $2 million for the women winning in 2015 and $4 million for their victory in 2019.

There is parity is per diems: the women get $62.50 daily while in the U.S. and $75 internationally, the same as the men received under terms of their expired deal that covered 2015-18. And men and women both receive $1.50 per paid attendance for home matches controlled by the USSF.

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