US women's national team, US Soccer clash in court over pay statistics

The U.S. women’s national soccer team disputed the U.S. Soccer Federation’s assertion that its top stars already earn more than their male counterparts, arguing in court documents Monday that the statistics lacked key context amid an ongoing fight for equal pay.

In a bid to block the women’s national team’s lawsuit from receiving class-action status, U.S. Soccer argued that four top players – Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn – each earned a total of roughly $1.2 million for national team play between March 30, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2019. By comparison, aggregated pay for top-earning U.S. male players each year amounted to less than $1 million over the same period.

In response, attorneys for the women’s national team argued that top players earned more money because they played in more national team games and had more international success than the men’s team. The U.S. women’s national team won the FIFA World Cup in 2015 and 2019.

"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,” U.S. women’s national team players spokesperson Molly Levinson said in a statement.

A group of 28 women’s national team players sued U.S. Soccer for gender-based wage discrimination. U.S. Soccer has argued that any differences in income between male and female players are attributable to their separate collective-bargaining agreements and pay structures.

"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.

Mediation talks between the two sides broke down in August. The equal-pay lawsuit is set to proceed to trial on May 5 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.