U.S. Women’s National Team Reaches Settlement with U.S. Soccer Regarding Travel and Working Conditions
Claims filed by soccer players of the U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT) alleging worse travel accommodations and working conditions than the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) have been settled according to court documents filed last week. As a result of this settlement, U.S. Soccer is amending its policies to include changes such as an equal number of charter flights for the men’s and women’s teams and an effort to have women’s matches played in top tier venues and on grass fields whenever possible. Female players had previously argued that they were forced to play in smaller venues and on artificial turf more often than the men’s team, pointing out that turf fields present a higher risk for serious injuries. While the legal claims regarding playing surfaces were discarded earlier this year, U.S. Soccer has now committed to providing grass fields “in almost all circumstances,” according to a Law360 article. Additionally, hotel accommodations for the men’s and women’s teams will have comparable budgets, and U.S. Soccer will work to ensure that the USWNT stays at high quality hotels. These changes will be added as amendments to the USWNT's collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer.
Response from U.S. Soccer
Cindy Parlow Cone, president of U.S. Soccer and former member of the USWNT, expressed her excitement regarding the settlement, saying that “[t]his settlement … demonstrates the commitment of our new leadership to find a new way forward of working together with our partners and our players" and calling it the “first step” in an effort to provide equitable support to both teams. Cone was named president in March when the federation reorganized its leadership following some controversy, including an argument made by its former legal team that the USMNT was paid more because men’s soccer requires more skill.
What’s Next for the USWNT?
Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the USWNT, echoed Cone and said, "We are pleased that the USWNT Players have fought for — and achieved — long-overdue equal working conditions.” However, the team is far from done in their battle for equal rights. On International Women's Day in March 2019, the USWNT memorably filed suit against U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination. In May of this year, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner nixed most of the USWNT arguments for pay discrimination, leaving only claims regarding travel and accommodations. Levinson recently stated, "We [USWNT] now intend to file our appeal to the court's decision, which does not account for the central fact in this case that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job." The USWNT is now moving to appeal the Ninth Circuit to revive their claims under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act. These claims stipulate that, despite holding a more impressive record that includes a 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup win, the women’s team is paid less than the men’s team because they are females. Read our previous blog post on the USWNT for a more in-depth explanation of the gender pay disparity.
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