The U.S. women’s national soccer team has reportedly been paid more than the men’s team in recent years, according to a letter from the U.S. Soccer Federation published Monday.
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The letter, signed by U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, said $34.1 million was given to the women’s team for salaries and game bonuses between 2010 and 2018, while the men received only $26.4 million.
The total does not include the value of benefits received only by the women, like health care.
The federation released the figures as it moves toward mediating a federal lawsuit in which players for the women's team accused U.S. Soccer of "institutionalized gender discrimination" that includes inequitable compensation when compared to players on the men's team.
Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players in matters involving the lawsuit, called the letter "a sad attempt by the U.S. Soccer Federation to quell the overwhelming tide of support the U.S. women's national team has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to Congress.
"The USSF has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally," Levinson said in a statement. "This is why they use words like ‘fair and equitable,’ not equal in describing pay."
Comparing compensation between the two teams is difficult because the pay structure is based on different collective bargaining agreements. For example, players for the women's team have a base salary while the men are paid primarily based on matches and performance.
In the letter, Cordeiro said the federation recently conducted an extensive analysis of its finances over the past 10 years, seeking to clear up what he called confusion based on the pay structures for both teams.
U.S. Soccer said it pays the women's national team players a base salary of $100,000 per year, and an additional $67,500 to $72,500 per player as a salary for playing in the National Women's Soccer League. The women also have health care benefits and a retirement plan.
Players on the men's national team are paid by training camp call-ups, game appearances and through performance bonuses. The federation acknowledged the men have the ability to earn higher bonuses than the women. The men's team did not make the field for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while the women have won back-to-back World Cup titles.
The collective bargaining agreements are not made public, and U.S. Soccer did not provide details about the men's bonus structure.
U.S. Soccer also says the men's team generates more revenue. The women's team generated $101.3 million over the course of 238 games between 2009 and 2019 while the men generated $185.7 million over 191 games, according to the federation.
The analysis did not include prize money for tournaments like the World Cup, because those funds are determined by FIFA, soccer's international governing body, and not U.S. Soccer.
Levinson maintained the figures provided by U.S. Soccer are misleading.
"The USSF fact sheet is not a ‘clarification.’ It is a ruse. Here is what they cannot deny. For every game a man plays on the MNT he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination," Levinson said in a statement. "For the USSF to believe otherwise, is disheartening but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay."
The letter comes amid increasing pressure on U.S. Soccer in the wake of the women's victory at the World Cup earlier this month.
Companies such as LUNA Bar and Procter & Gamble have promised to donate money to the U.S. women’s national team to help close the pay gap.
During the World Cup, more than 50 members of Congress also sent a letter to U.S. Soccer "to express our disappointment of the inequities in pay, publicity, and investment that the U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) has continued to face."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.