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USWNT vows to keep fighting for equal pay in light of judge’s ruling

A federal judge ruled in favor of the U.S. Soccer Federation Friday in the two side’s longstanding pay discrimination suit.

2020 SheBelieves Cup - United States v Japan Photo by Wilf Thorne/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The U.S. women’s national team vows to keep fighting for equal pay in light of a federal judge’s decision to rule in favor of the U.S. Soccer Federation on most of the key issues in their longstanding wage discrimination lawsuit. Judge R. Gary Klausner on Friday ruled the players “have not demonstrated a triable issue that WNT players are paid less than MNT players,” ESPN reports.

Immediately following the ruling, several USWNT stats, including Megan Rapinoe, said they will continue to pursue the cause of equal pay.

“We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY,” Rapinoe tweeted.

The U.S. Women’s National Team sued U.S. Soccer last March for pay discrimination, asking for roughly $67 million in back pay for what they say is a violation of the Equal Pay Act. All 28 members of the club are included in the class-action lawsuit.

They also allege the federation discriminated against them under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in regards to workplace conditions.

A federal judge allowed the suit to move forward late last year, setting up a prolonged legal showdown between the USWNT and its own federation. The women say U.S. Soccer unfairly provides the men’s team with much larger performance bonuses, despite their relative lack of on-field success. The USWNT have won two straight World Cups — and four in total —while the men haven’t even qualified for the tournament since 2014, when they lost to Belgium in the Round of 16.

The USSF, meanwhile, has argued the liability for any pay disparities lie with the union whom the USWNT hired to negotiate its contract. As Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann explains, WNT players are largely compensated through guarantees, while MNT players have lower base salaries but earn higher bonuses.

The federation’s embattled legal team has argued the U.S. women are less skilled than their male counterparts, explaining the bonus disparity. The leaking of those court documents caused USSF president Carlos Cordeiro to resign.

Judge Klausner, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court of Central California by President George W. Bush, sided with the USSF, arguing the WNT should blame their own CBA for any pay disparities.

“The history of negotiations between the parties demonstrates that the WNT rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT, and that the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for other benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” the judge wrote, via SI.

In addition, Judge Klausner concluded the WNT actually earned more on average per game than MNT from 2015-2019, playing 111 total games and making $24.5 million overall in salaries. During the same period, the men played 87 games and earned $18.5 million overall in salaries.

The average pay per game for the women was $221,000, and the men received $213,000.

Judge Klausner did find merit in the WNT’s claim that the USSF subjected them to worse travel conditions, and said the smaller set of claims will move forward to a jury trial scheduled for June 16. The WNT can appeal their loss to the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals.