Top Female Players Accuse U.S. Soccer Of Wage Discrimination

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Five of the best players from the U.S. women's national soccer team filed a federal complaint, charging U.S. Soccer with wage discrimination on Wednesday, reports The New York Times.

The players involved in the complaint are some of the most popular athletes in the game: co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, along with Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Hope Solo. The complaint was submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination.

The complaint states that despite the U.S. women's national soccer team's status as reigning World Cup and Olympic champions, they're still getting paid less than their male counterparts.

"I think we've proven our worth over the years," Lloyd said on the Today Show on Thursday morning. Llyod was voted the most valuable player at the Women's World Cup. "Just coming off a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. We want to continue to fight. The generation of players before us fought. And now it's our job to keep fighting."

In a statement released by the players, goalkeeper Solo added, “The numbers speak for themselves. We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships, and the U.S.M.N.T. get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

In the U.S., nearly 23 million people tuned in for the Women's World Cup final match in July 2015 — the biggest American television audience for a soccer game in history. Shockingly, the women's U.S. team took home just $2 million from FIFA for winning it all. Meanwhile, the U.S. men’s team earned $8 million for losing in the first knockout round game in 2014.

In simple terms: The men earned four times as much to lose a tournament as the women earned to win the whole thing, which is part of a startling trend in unequal pay in sports.

According to The New York Times, women’s players are salaried employees — the top players are paid about $72,000 a year by the federation. But their complaint includes claims that male soccer players receive an additional $5,000 for a loss in a friendly match, and as much as $17,625 for a win against a top opponent. A women’s player receives $1,350 for a similar match, but only if the U.S. wins.

In addition to the battle over wage disparity, the U.S. women's team has also combated governing soccer bodies for better playing conditions, including the right to play on real grass (like the men do) rather than artificial turf, which they deem unsafe.

“While we have not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we are disappointed about this action," U.S. Soccer said in a statement. "We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”

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