Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The USWNT is halfway there, but pay equity is the tricky bit

There is cause to celebrate for the USWNT.
There is cause to celebrate for the USWNT.
Image: Getty Images

The U.S. Women’s national soccer team’s fight for equality got a boost yesterday when they and U.S. Soccer came to a settlement on all the issues that weren’t thrown out by the court back in the spring.

Essentially, issues like amenities, staffing, travel will be on par with the men’s team, which was half of the class-action suit that the players had filed against U.S. Soccer. The fact that they could come to a settlement suggests at least a slight thawing of the relationship between the players and U.S. Soccer.

However, the issue of money still remains. The players still plan on appealing the tossing of that part of the lawsuit, though that could take several months thanks to the pandemic. And negotiations with U.S. Soccer over that don’t sound like they’re all that close.

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It may seem cut-and-dried to the layman, but it isn’t. One, the contracts for both the women and men are collectively bargained. In a sense, the USWNT chose this path.

The bigger sticking point is that the top women on the U.S. roster, 25 chosen by the national team manager, are paid a yearly salary, even if they don’t play every national team game. The men are only paid on a per-game basis when they are called up. The bonus structures for the men do mean they can get paid more for tournaments, but the salary structure means that the top end of the women’s roster actually make more during non-tournament years.

The women haven’t shown an interest in going off of their salary structure to a per-game one, according to president Cindy Parlow Cone. That makes sense, as the salaries in NWSL are generally so low. Losing their national team salary would be a major reduction in income, and should that salary structure from US Soccer go away you could see that rash of moves to England from national team players became permanent instead of just Olympic-year prepping.

In addition, some of the financial demands of the U.S. Women are linked to prize money from FIFA, which doesn’t have much to do with U.S. Soccer. Yes, the U.S. women only got about 1/9th for winning the World Cup than the French men did for winning the World Cup the year before, but the revenue differences between the two tournaments is massive. That’s also a FIFA problem, not a U.S. Soccer one. Sponsorships and worldwide viewing numbers and tickets just generate far more cash for the men’s World Cup. It’s a shitty world, but at the moment that’s the way things are.

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As backward and corrupt as US Soccer has been and could still be, they can’t make up the difference in prize money that they aren’t in charge of generating.

It all sounds good when it’s distilled to a slogan, and getting equal amenities and working conditions is a win, even if it feels rudimentary. But once you get into the details, you see the altitude of the hill the women are trying to climb.

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Baseball’s nuclear winter kicked into a higher gear with the non-tender deadline today. The headline was the Minnesota Twins placing Eddie Rosario on outright waivers, which almost certainly means they’re going to non-tender him but are willing to see if anyone will just take his contract off their hands before they have to just lose him to free agency.

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And lots of teams should! While Rosario is hardly a star, he’s only a year removed from a 32-homer, .500 slugging season. Granted, every Twin in 2019 has bonkers power numbers simply to prove chaos theory, but this is still a player with two other 20-plus homer seasons who doesn’t strike out much and is worth generally 2-3.0 fWAR.

Rosario is only due to make about $9M in arbitration, which is a bargain for a player who can be a starter in left field for a lot of teams. That’s nothing. It’s a surprise the Twins feel they’re so hard up for cash that they can’t afford $9M-$10M, and will turn left field over to Jake Cave and his amazing collection of strikeouts or the unproven Travis Blankenhorn. Especially on a team that needs outfield depth, because we know Byron Buxton can’t go seven minutes without some body part falling off of him or turning to ash.

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Rosario won’t be the last surprising name to simply hit the market, and you wonder how many of them will get screwed out of the money they would have made in arbitration, which already is a system designed to screw players out of money as it is. Rosario is a lot like Kolten Wong, whom the Cardinals simply let go just a couple weeks ago. A more than serviceable player a team would normally be excited to get at small to medium money as it frees up cash splashes elsewhere, but now are labeled a luxury as a billionaire owner turns his pockets out and expects us to buy his bullshit.

This is going to get worse before it gets better, says Chief Wiggum.

We can't be too careful. Two guys in an airport...talking? It's a little fishy.

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