The U.S. Soccer Federation has formally denied allegations of gender discrimination made by players of the U.S. women’s national team.
Twenty-eight members of the current women’s player pool filed the lawsuit March 8 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination” that includes unequal pay with their counterparts on the men’s national team.
The USSF filed its answer on Monday, about one month before the Women’s World Cup. The USSF claims every decision made “with respect to the conduct alleged in the complaint was for legitimate business reasons and not for any discriminatory or other unlawful purpose.”
The federation has maintained the differences in pay are the result of different collective bargaining agreements that establish distinct pay structures for the two teams. Those agreements are not public.
U.S. Soccer also maintained in the response that any alleged differences in pay between the men’s and women’s national teams were not based on gender, but “differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex.”
“There is no legal basis for USSF’s claim that it is anything other than a single employer operating both the men’s and women’s teams – who face drastically unequal conditions and pay under their shared employer, said Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the national team players who filed the lawsuit. “The USSF cannot justify its violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII by pointing to the teams’ separate collective bargaining agreements or any factor other than sex. Even as the most decorated American soccer team in history, USSF treats the women’s team as `less-than’ equal compared to their male colleagues. We look forward to a trial next year after the World Cup.”
The USSF and the women’s team agreed in April 2017 to a collective bargaining agreement through 2021 that gave the players higher pay and better benefits.
The federation claims the allegations do not rise to the level required for punitive damages because there is no evidence of malicious, reckless or fraudulent intent to deny the players their rights.
The lawsuit brought by current national team players is an escalation of a long-simmering dispute over pay and treatment. Five players filed a complaint in 2016 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the federation. The lawsuit effectively ended that EEOC complaint.
The U.S. Soccer Federation has asked a court to consolidate a gender discrimination lawsuit filed by players on the women’s national team with an action filed earlier by former goalkeeper Hope Solo.
The federation filed the motion Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. A hearing was scheduled for April 29.
The 28 members of the current women’s player pool filed their lawsuit earlier this month. It accuses the U.S. Soccer Federation of “institutionalized gender discrimination” that includes unequal pay with their counterparts on the men’s national team.
Solo filed a similar lawsuit in August in the Northern District of California.
Solo no longer plays for the national team. Her contract was terminated when she was suspended from the team following the 2016 Rio Olympics. However, she continues to champion gender equity issues.
She told The Associated Press earlier this month that she had hoped her former teammates would join in her lawsuit.
“It was clear that U.S. Soccer was never going to acquiesce or negotiate to provide us equal pay or agree to treat us fairly,” she said. “The filing by the entire United Sates women’s national team demonstrated that they no longer fear the federation by forcefully and publicly acknowledging U.S. Soccer’s violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII.”
The lawsuit brought by current national team players is an escalation of a long-simmering dispute over pay and treatment. Five players, including Solo, filed a complaint in 2016 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the federation. The lawsuit effectively ended that EEOC complaint.
U.S. Soccer maintains that the men’s and women’s teams have separate collective bargaining agreements and their pay is structured differently. That means there is no simple dollar-to-dollar salary comparison. Terms of the CBAs have not been made public.
Compensation for the women includes a guaranteed salary and salaries paid by the USSF for their time with clubs in the National Women’s Soccer League. The men get paid based on appearances, roster selection for friendlies and tournaments, and collective performance. The USSF has cited the contracts, as well as the revenue generated by the teams, as the reason for the differences in pay.
NEW YORK (AP) Mark Geiger, the first American to referee in the knockout stage of the World Cup, is retiring after 15 seasons in Major League Soccer.
The Professional Referee Organization, which oversees on-field officials in the United States and Canada, plans to announce Wednesday that the 44-year-old will become its director of senior match officials. He will report to former Premier League referee Howard Webb, PRO’s general manager.
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Geiger says “at 48, when the next World Cup would happen, I didn’t think I would be at the same point that I am at right now.”
He has been bothered by his left Achilles tendon.
A former math teacher from Beachwood, New Jersey, Geiger became the second American to referee at two World Cups, after David Socha in 1982 and 1986. Geiger refereed three matches at each of the last two World Cups, including round of 16 matchups between France and Nigeria in 2014, and between England and Colombia last year. He also refereed the 2014 MLS Cup final.
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According to a report by Washington Post reporter Steven Goff, U.S. Soccer Federation CEO and General Secretary Dan Flynn will step down from his position in the aftermath of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Flynn has been atop USSF for the last 18 years, generally credited for turning around the finances of the federation from a position of instability and insecurity to generate a $150 million reserve fund.
The 63-year-old has been a source of stability for U.S. Soccer over the past two decades despite multiple changes around him. He began serving with U.S. Soccer back in 1994 when he left his position as president of Anheuser-Busch and worked on the United States’ production of the World Cup that summer. After that, he served as Chief Administrative Officer and as Chief Operating Officer until his hiring as CEO in 2000.
The report states that Flynn will assist in the transition to his successor after stepping down. While no timetable is given for his departure other than to suggest it will take place during the 2019 calendar year, the report states that it is unlikely that he will leave before the end of the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
Flynn was the genesis of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, TX and is the federation’s highest paid employee.
Earnie Stewart was hired as U.S. Soccer general manager on June 6. It’s about time.
Exactly five days before the one-year anniversary of the loss to Trinidad & Tobago, U.S. Soccer has announced Stewart has begun to interview candidates for the vacant United States head coaching position.
The USMNT has been without a permanent head coach since October 13 when Bruce Arena resigned three days after the fateful loss in Couva. Dave Sarachan has been proceeding as interim head coach for much of that vacancy, but he is only considered a fringe candidate for the permanent position. U.S. Soccer has taken a significant amount of criticism for the length of time it has taken to even begin the interview process, with many pleading with the federation to solidify the position and help the federation move on from the disaster a year ago.
ESPN’s Doug McIntyre reports that Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter, whom many believe to be a serious candidate for the position, gave a “no comment” when asked if he has been interviewed. Meanwhile, Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep reported that while Stewart had suggested interviewing just one candidate was a possibility, they have multiple candidates lined up for interviews during this process.
There are no other significant reports of those who may be involved, but others who have received significant mention in the past have included former New York Red Bulls manager Jesse Marsch, current Sporting KC boss Peter Vermes, Toronto FC and head coach Greg Vanney. Others who have been brought up include Atlanta United boss and former Argentina head coach Tata Martino, former Portland Timbers manager Caleb Porter, and current U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos.