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USMNT players’ union back USWNT in equal pay battle

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The US National Soccer Team Players Association (UNSTPA) have released a statement backing the USWNT in their equal pay battle with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Following USSF president Carlos Cordeiro releasing a statement which included claims that the USWNT cost U.S. Soccer $27 million over the last 11 years and that they paid the women’s team more than the men during that period, the men’s national team have once again reiterated their support for the USWNT.

“The federation downplays contributions to the sport when it suits them,” said the UNSTPA. “This is more of the same from a federation that is constantly in disputes and litigation and focuses on increasing revenue and profits without any idea how to use that money to grow the sport. One way to increase profit unfairly is to refuse to pay national team players a fair share of the revenue they generate.”

The UNSTPA, the labor organization for the current and former members of the USMNT, went on to pick apart Cordeiro’s comments regarding labor negotiations as their current CBA agreement expired at the end of 2018 and they are yet to hear from him.

“The women’s national team players deserve equal pay and are right to pursue a legal remedy from the courts or Congress. The Federation correctly points to the different payment systems with USWNT players on contracts, but we do not believe that justifies discrediting the work they do or the real value of their profound impact on the American sports landscape. The only solution Mr. Cordeiro proposes is for fans to buy more tickets and watch more games on television.

“He conceals the fact that the money will not go to USWNT players when sponsors pay the Federation to support the USWNT, fans buy tickets to USWNT games at ever-increasing ticket prices, and television companies pay more when more fans watch USWNT games. That is neither fair nor equitable. We are also surprised Mr. Cordeiro is writing about labor issues since he has yet to contact the USNSTPA since taking office. As you may know, our CBA expired at the end of 2018 and we are currently waiting on a response from US Soccer to our proposal that would pay the men a fair share of all of the revenue they generate and would provide equal pay to the USMNT and USWNT players.”

U.S. Soccer files response to lawsuit filed by women’s team

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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.

U.S. Soccer asks court to consolidate discrimination lawsuits

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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.

Top American referee Mark Geiger is retiring

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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.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]  

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.

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

Report: USSF CEO Dan Flynn to step down in 2019

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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.