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U.S. Soccer Releases Dubious Numbers To Refute Claims Of Pay Inequality

Photo: Bruce Bennett (Getty)

U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro released a letter and accompanying fact sheet Monday evening intended to demonstrate that his federation invests more heavily in women’s soccer than it does in men’s. The purpose here is to refute the notion that men’s national team members are paid more than their counterparts on the women’s team.

The timing of this is important. The USWNT will soon enter into mediation with USSF in order to resolve a lawsuit accusing the latter of gender discrimination. The players’ case, which is really quite simple, is that a game check handed to a member of the USMNT is larger than a game check handed to a member of the USWNT, when it should not be, if for no other reason than that the job is the same. It helps, of course, that the members of the women’s team are like a billion trillion kerjillion times better at their jobs than their male counterparts.

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Cordeiro uses some funky accounting to disingenuously make the case that actually the women are paid more. His first item of business is to move the target: instead of discussing actual pay, he moves to guaranteed pay; instead of pay per national team appearance, he moves to national team pay plus club salary. Since the USWNT negotiated for guaranteed base salaries in their CBA, and since the USSF contributes financially to the NWSL, Cordeiro argues that a women’s soccer player earns more in USSF cash than a men’s soccer player is guaranteed to make.

Particularly shitty is the inclusion of club pay—USWNT players are essentially stuck in NWSL, because there is not a robust global marketplace of leagues offering better opportunities, overwhelmingly due to gender discrimination. Cordeiro’s argument is essentially that the only fair comparison for the pay a man earns for playing for the men’s team is the total earnings from soccer of a woman who plays for the women’s team, and that even then it’s an unfair comparison because CBA conditions define the pay differently. Which is also extremely shitty, because it’s not like USSF was saying here, please have more money, and the players were like nah, we’d like to make less but in the form of guaranteed pay. The guaranteed pay is what it is because USSF was pushing back, because that’s how negotiations work.

As you can imagine, Cordeiro’s case was forcefully slapped down by Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the USWNT players. Per ESPN:

“The numbers the USSF uses are utterly false, which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women’s players’ compensation. Any apples-to-apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women.”

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“The USSF fact sheet is not a ‘clarification.’ It is a ruse,” Levinson said. “Here is what they cannot deny: For every game a man plays on the MNT, he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination. For the USSF to believe otherwise is disheartening, but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay. If the USSF cannot agree to this at the upcoming mediation, we will see them in the court of law and the court of public opinion.”

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It would be bad enough for USSF to stand up and state its case, which is that USWNT players deserve to make less than their male counterparts. Shifting and obfuscating the terms of the disagreement in order to pretend that USWNT players actually aren’t making less than their male counterparts is some alternative facts-type bullcrap. Cordeiro’s letter and fact sheet are embedded below.

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