U.S. Soccer Doesn't Want to Give Women's Team Equal Pay Because They Say Men Have 'More Responsibility'
As the United States women’s national soccer team continues to push on their equal pay lawsuit, the U.S. Soccer Federation is claiming that the male soccer players carry “more responsibility within U.S. Soccer” than their female counterparts.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in March 2019 in Los Angeles federal court under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the players — which include Alex Morgan, Becky Sauerbrunn, Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe — claim that they are not paid equally to the men’s national players.
Now, the players on the United States women’s national soccer team are asking to be awarded over $66 million in damages.
However, in a Monday court filing, the U.S. Soccer Federation outlined new arguments as to why the USWNT is paid less than the USMNT, asserting that it has nothing to do with gender discrimination.
The Federation argued, “The job of a [men’s national team player] carries more responsibility within US Soccer than the job of a [women’s national team] player.”
In response, a spokesperson for the women’s team told PEOPLE in a statement, “This ridiculous ‘argument’ belongs in the Paleolithic Era. It sounds as if it has been made by a caveman. Literally everyone in the world understands that an argument that male players ‘have more responsibility’ is just plain simple sexism and illustrates the very gender discrimination that caused us to file this lawsuit to begin with. So looking forward to trial on May 5.”
The Federation also claimed that “the job of MNT player requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength than does the job of WNT player.”
Even more, the Federation claims the men’s teams experience more of a hostile crowd at home games, which makes the USMNT have a “substantially different job.”
The U.S. Soccer lawyers further claimed it is “indisputable science” to “recognize the different levels of speed and strength required for the two jobs” and not a “sexist stereotype.”
A representative for the USMNT did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.
The U.S. Soccer Federation has previously argued that the women’s team, which is represented by a separate union from the men’s team, rejected a “pay-to-play agreement” that was similar to the men’s team.
“At the moment, the Women’s National Team players are paid differently because they specifically asked for, and negotiated, a completely different contract than the Men’s National Team, despite being offered, and rejecting, a similar pay-to-play agreement during the past negotiations,” the USSF said in a statement to ESPN.
U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro announced news of this rejection one night before the She Believes Cup — a women’s tournament hosted by U.S. Soccer around International Women’s Day.
“I mean, the timing of it on the eve of not only a game, but in this tournament and on the eve of International Women’s Day,” Rapinoe told The Athletic. “I guess if that’s how you want to celebrate International Women’s Day and show support for not only your players but future players and girls all over the place, that’s one way to do it.”