This was not the scene outside US District Court this week. But it might as well have been. | Photo by Maddie Meyer – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
The U.S. women score another victory, this time in court against their own federation
Now that the USWNT has finished their run through the World Cup, they’ve taken their next battle to the courts in a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, seeking pay equality with the men’s national team. And as of this week, their undefeated streak continues.
In an important step moving their court case forward, U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner granted the USWNT plaintiffs class-action status. According to The New York Times, this means that the team’s lawsuit “applied not only to the 28 named plaintiffs, but also to any woman who had appeared in a national team camp or game over the multiyear period specified in the suit.”
Basically, if you think of the U.S. Women’s fight for equal pay as its own version of the World Cup, this decision was the 13-0 drubbing of Thailand. A flawless victory–but still just a first step.
And a USWNT win wouldn’t be complete without a Megan Rapinoe victory pose. In response to Klausner’s decision, the U.S. Captain proclaimed:
“Sometimes it’s nice for someone to say, ‘I believe you and I am validating what you’ve been saying.’ We have an internal belief in what we’re doing. But to have someone, and in this case someone very important in this case, say, ‘I believe what you’re saying,’ is very important.”
It’s not quite as catchy as “I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN” but it’ll do.
A spokesperson for the federation responded to the court’s decision with a terse “U.S. Soccer does not have any specific comment.” You know you’ve had a bad day in court when your P.R. team goes The Full Belichick.
The Times further speculated that this latest setback for U.S. Soccer might prompt the two sides to attempt another round of out-of-court negotiations in order to settle the lawsuit. Previous bargaining between the two sides failed to reach an agreement back in August.
When asked about the possibility of a negotiated settlement, Rapinoe demurred, asserting “We’re the only team they can have, they’re the only federation we can have… If the conversation can move forward, if we get further along in the process, potentially we can get back together. But we’re going to need to see quite a bit more.”
During the USWNT victory parade back in July, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio led thousands of fans in a chant of “USA! Equal Pay!” This latest court decision hopefully brought the U.S. Women one step closer to that chant becoming official federation policy.
While the USWNT scored a victory in an important court procedure, this is what they currently are up against professionally: Yahoo Sports reported that for the first time in the history of the National Women’s Soccer League, it has decided to introduce a new spending mechanism called “allocation money.”
The concept allows team owners to spend more money acquiring big stars.
But to the U.S. Women’s National team, the new compensation rules are yet another slap in the face, all because of this stipulation: “Allocation money may not be used for Canadian or U.S. allocated players.”
That means USWNT players who have contractually committed to the NWSL since its inception won’t see a dime.
“Immediately people were like, ‘Um, you’re telling me we’re opening up the money but I’m stuck?’” Megan Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports. “‘We’re gonna be here for seven years, and then you’re gonna bring in whoever for $200K and I’m gonna be making what I’m making now?’ It’s just not fair.”
Outsports and our partners at AllForXi will bring you more in-depth reporting on this new development in the weeks and months to come.