U.S. Soccer Spends Money on Lobbyists to Argue Against Equal Pay Instead of, You Know, Paying Women Equally

USA Women's team celebrates their World Cup win.

The US Soccer Federation has decided that, instead of giving the women’s team equal pay, they will instead be spending money to hire lobbyists from two D.C. firms to argue why the women don’t deserve it. This is an upsetting yet unsurprising move from the USSF, which has always devalued the USWNT.

The hiring comes on the heels of the Athletics Fair Pay Act, a bill that requires equal pay and compensation for all Olympic and amateur athletes, which was introduced last month by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).

Feinstein said of the bill, “Despite the incredible advancements made by women in sports, female athletes in sports like soccer and hockey are paid significantly less than their male counterparts … America cheered as the women’s soccer team won a historic fourth World Cup, but our support shouldn’t end with ticker-tape parades. All women should receive fair and equal pay, including our women athletes in every sport.”

Ever since their stunning win at the Women’s World Cup last month, fans and players have been demanding equal pay for the US Women’s soccer team. Fans chanted equal pay after the finals match, and the USWNT has already filed a class action lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation for gender discrimination.

And given the massive viewership of the Women’s World Cup and the merch outselling the men’s, it’s clear that women’s soccer is just as profitable, if not more so, than the men’s team (which has never gotten close to winning a World Cup of their own). Even corporations like Proctor & Gamble, via Secret Deodorant and Luna Bar, have made public pledges to donate money to help the team achieve financial equity.

Neil Buethe, the U.S. Soccer spokesman, said in a statement, “Due to the large number of requests we’ve received from policymakers since the Women’s World Cup, we are taking the proper steps to make sure that those leaders have accurate information and factual numbers that will inform them about the unmatched support and investment the U.S. Soccer Federation has provided as a leader in women’s football across the world.”

The lobbyists prepared a presentation that detailed how the USWNT makes more money than the men’s team, when considering the benefits they receive that the men’s team doesn’t, i.e. a guaranteed salary, maternity leave, a nanny subsidy, health benefits, retirement perks, and injury protection. But those numbers fail to account for the number of games played and the base pay per game: women earn $4,950 per game, compared to the men who earn $13,166.

Molly Levinson,spokeswoman for the USWNT, said she was “stunned and disappointed” that the USSF “would spend sponsor dollars and revenue to advocate against laws that ensure that women are paid equally to men.”

She continued, “We can’t imagine that fans or sponsors would support USSF’s effort to misinform and mislead lawmakers about the facts by blatantly inflating numbers and minimizing and diminishing the work women players do … USSF should use their platform and resources to support equality in this country, not constantly fight against it.”

It’s pretty damning that while the USSF claims they don’t have the money to pay their women’s team, they are more than willing to shell out for lobbyists to uphold their unequal pay policies. Just pay the women already.

(via Politico, image:Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

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