The US Must Follow Equal Pay Guidelines for Men and Women’s Soccer Teams & The New LA Soccer Expansion Franchise
More Countries Have Announced Equal Pay for Men and Women’s Soccer Teams And The U.S. Must Follow
By Zac Cornell
The U.S. Women’s National soccer team (USWNT) may be facing legal hurdles in their Equal Pay lawsuit with the U.S. Soccer Federation, but the court of public opinion and the actions of other countries are increasingly swinging in their favor.
On September 2, 2020, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) announced that its men’s and women’s national soccer teams will be paid equally going forward. “There is no more gender difference, the CBF is treating men and women equally,” said CBF chief Rogerio Caboclo.
As of January 2020, England’s Football Association has also committed to equal pay for men’s and women’s national soccer teams match fees and match bonuses.
Australia, Norway and New Zealand previously committed to paying men and women equally. Australia’s women’s soccer reached their landmark agreement with the Football Federation in Australia in November 2019. In addition to equal pay, the Australian female soccer players, known as the Matildas, also secured equitable conditions, coaching and operational support to their male counterparts.
In addition to other countries changing policies, public opinion is clearly behind women’s players. A record breaking 1 billion plus people tuned in to watch the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France according to FIFA, negating any arguments that women players can’t generate the same level of interest as men.
While the U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner dismissed the USWNT lawsuit of unequal pay in a summary judgment in May 2020, he did rule that the organization could continue with their lawsuit over unequal provisions for travel, accommodations, and medical and training support. However the USWNT appealed his decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit remaining committed in their fight.
The Men’s team released a statement of support saying, “The USMNT players continue to stand with the WNT players in their efforts to secure equal pay. For a year and a half the USMNT players have made proposals to the Federation that would achieve equal pay for the USMNT and USWNT players. We understand the WNT players plan to appeal last week’s decision and we support them.”
Despite the discouragement in court, the USWNT continues to gain traction from the public’s opinion. Politicians, corporate sponsors, and even Major League Soccer Commissioner, Don Garber, and U.S. Soccer Federation vice president ,Cindy Cone, have voiced their support for the USWNT. Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden tweeted after Judge Klausner’s ruling, “To the USWNT: don’t give up this fight. This is not over yet. To U.S. Soccer: equal pay, now. Or else when I’m president, you can go elsewhere for World Cup funding.”
Fighting against equal pay is clearly tarnishing the U.S. Soccer Federation’s brand and could ultimately cost them more than the $66 million in damages which the USWNT are seeking. Let’s hope that the U.S. Soccer Federation will follow the lead of other countries and resolve the issue of unequal pay outside of the courts.
Serena Williams, Natalie Portman, and USWNT Legends Among Founders of the First Women-Majority Owned Sports Team: New LA Soccer Expansion Franchise
By Zac Cornell
Serena Williams, Natalie Portman, fourteen former USWNT legends including Mia Hamm, and many more high profile women have joined together to create the first women-majority owned soccer team. Currently nicknamed “Angel City,” the new expansion team based in Los Angeles will be the 11th team in the National Women’s Soccer League and will begin playing in 2022.
In a statement, NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird said, “We’ve long sought the right partner in L.A. considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general.” She continued, “Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group, make this an ideal situation, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.”
Serena William’s husband, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, is another lead investor in the team as well as the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., making her the youngest owner in professional sports. Some other bold faced names behind the new franchise include veteran soccer star Abby Wambach and wife Glennon Doyle, actresses Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria, and America Ferrera, Netflix VP Cindy Holland, venture capitalist Kara Nortman and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman.
Investing in a woman’s soccer expansion team is considered a profitable business move considering the National Women’s Soccer League is enjoying continually increasing popularity due to the USWNT’s extraordinary World Cup domination and win last summer and their high profile lawsuit for equal pay. Women’s soccer was the first sport to return from the pandemic shutdown this summer and fan interest was at a record high. Baird was already able to translate the league’s momentum into dollars, signing a $4.5 million three-year deal with CBS to broadcast league games on TV for the first time, as well as a deal to stream the games on Twitch for an international audience. This summer’s tournament’s opening game had 3.5 times the viewership of last year’s championship game. In addition, according to Forbes, the National Women’s Soccer League has the most viewers on Twitch of any non-gaming sport.
The league is showing no signs of slowing down, with the upcoming 2021 Summer Olympics offering another opportunity for the USWNT players to shine on the world stage followed by another World Cup in 2023.