USWNT Thread

mgarbowski

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Haven’t seen any discussion here of the recent ruling in the equal pay lawsuit.

Here is a particularly good article on what might come next. Wetzel makes the point that the real issue here is FIFA, which offers very different bonus pools for men and women and generally underinvests in the women’s game.
That's a good explainer on many levels, but doesn't really address the legal reasons the women lost.
When measuring and comparing compensation for equal pay, a court needs to look at total compensation: guaranteed pay, benefits, bonuses, severance, expense accounts, etc. The women chose to focus almost solely on bonuses while the USSF submitted analyses of the total pay of both teams that showed the women's total compensation was actually higher than the men. Of course the WNT was entitled to dispute those total compensation calculations, but, according to the decision, the women did not. Instead their expert compared not what the women actually earned to what the men actually earned -- which is the standard, but calculated what the women would have earned under the men's deal. That's solid for PR work but irrelevant to the law. And FWIW, the USSF submitted calculations (again, not disputed by the women) showing that if the men were paid under the WNT contract, the men would be paid more than they actually were. This really reinforces why that cannot be the standard. Because, if that were the standard, both teams would have valid equal pay claims, which is crazy.

The WNT also relied on statements and testimony -- some by USSF officers -- to prove that the men are paid more. But the legal standard is based on the numbers, and cannot be undone by something someone says. Just because someone even in high level management for your opponent seems to concede your point, it's not enough unless some actual evidence supports it. This is specifically addressed in the opinion.

Bottom line: the WNT lost because their legal team decided not to compare (1) what they actually earned, to (2) what the men actually earned. And everything else was great for winning public opinion but not in court. Which doesn't mean they screwed up. It's possible they could not plausibly make the numbers support them on the actual standard. When the facts and the law are against you, you work with what you have, and the WNT has a very powerful PR case so it made sense to run with it.
 
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Ulrich

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That's a good explainer on many levels, but doesn't really address the legal reasons the women lost.
When measuring and comparing compensation for equal pay, a court needs to look at total compensation: guaranteed pay, benefits, bonuses, severance, expense accounts, etc. The women chose to focus almost solely on bonuses while the USSF submitted analyses of the total pay of both teams that showed the women's total compensation was actually higher than the men. Of course the WNT was entitled to dispute those total compensation calculations, but, according to the decision, the women did not. Instead their expert compared not what the women actually earned to what the men actually earned -- which is the standard, but calculated what the women would have earned under the men's deal. That's solid for PR work but irrelevant to the law. And FWIW, the USSF submitted calculations (again, not disputed by the women) showing that if the men were paid under the WNT contract, the men would be paid more than they actually were. This really reinforces why that cannot be the standard. Because, if that were the standard, both teams would have valid equal pay claims, which is crazy.

The WNT also relied on statements and testimony -- some by USSF officers -- to prove that the men are paid more. But the legal standard is based on the numbers, and cannot be undone by something someone says. Just because someone even in high level management for your opponent seems to concede your point, it's not enough unless some actual evidence supports it. This is specifically addressed in the opinion.

Bottom line: the WNT lost because their legal team decided not to compare (1) what they actually earned, to (2) what the men actually earned. And everything else was great for winning public opinion but not in court. Which doesn't mean they screwed up. It's possible they could not plausibly make the numbers support them on the actual standard. When the facts and the law are against you, you work with what you have, and the WNT has a very powerful PR case so it made sense to run with it.
In addition to your very good synopsis, I believe the WNT were also offered the exact same contract as the men and turned it down to ensure guaranteed money as part of their salary structure. Their choice. They chose.
 

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Good stuff.

My feeling about this case all along was that the USWNT chose to sue the one entity that was actually supporting them well and paying them well.

Soccer players can get paid by their

- club teams
- FIFA (indirectly)
- sponsorships
- national federations

Women's soccer does not have a strong set of Club teams, so they aren't getting paid well from that source.

FIFA and its regional federations pay bonuses to the men that are many times what they pay the women. Further, FIFA has certainly exhibited sexist behavior on many occasions, including in the recent past.

I would imagine that the women on the national team do reasonably well on sponsorships compared to the men, but that neither do as well as Americans in other sports.

Finally, US Soccer has been supportive of the women's game for decades; they've paid the women better than other national federations do, spent more on development of the women's game than other countries, and even subsidize the local women's league. Whether their support has been equal to what they've done for the men is a fair question, but it has been serious support that is beyond what anyone else has done.

The problem with all of the above is that the only party the women can sue is US Soccer. They can't sue their own league for not paying them as much as the men get paid in MLS because those are different entities. They can't sue FIFA for jurisdictional issues, and they can't sue sponsors. That leave one candidate, and it's the organization that has paid out millions in compensation to them - probably more than all the other sources combined.

It's a bad situation. The women know they're the best in the world at what they do - elite athletes in every sense of the word. They can look around and see that elite male athletes make millions and are set for life. They aren't. But what can they do about it?
 

Shwafta

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Good stuff.

My feeling about this case all along was that the USWNT chose to sue the one entity that was actually supporting them well and paying them well.

Soccer players can get paid by their

- club teams
- FIFA (indirectly)
- sponsorships
- national federations

Women's soccer does not have a strong set of Club teams, so they aren't getting paid well from that source.

FIFA and its regional federations pay bonuses to the men that are many times what they pay the women. Further, FIFA has certainly exhibited sexist behavior on many occasions, including in the recent past.

I would imagine that the women on the national team do reasonably well on sponsorships compared to the men, but that neither do as well as Americans in other sports.

Finally, US Soccer has been supportive of the women's game for decades; they've paid the women better than other national federations do, spent more on development of the women's game than other countries, and even subsidize the local women's league. Whether their support has been equal to what they've done for the men is a fair question, but it has been serious support that is beyond what anyone else has done.

The problem with all of the above is that the only party the women can sue is US Soccer. They can't sue their own league for not paying them as much as the men get paid in MLS because those are different entities. They can't sue FIFA for jurisdictional issues, and they can't sue sponsors. That leave one candidate, and it's the organization that has paid out millions in compensation to them - probably more than all the other sources combined.

It's a bad situation. The women know they're the best in the world at what they do - elite athletes in every sense of the word. They can look around and see that elite male athletes make millions and are set for life. They aren't. But what can they do about it?
Yeah, but suing the entity that can't do anything about that is not the right answer either. Especially when what Ulrich Ulrich said is what I saw as well:
In addition to your very good synopsis, I believe the WNT were also offered the exact same contract as the men and turned it down to ensure guaranteed money as part of their salary structure. Their choice. They chose.
 

Gotham Gator

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Yeah, but suing the entity that can't do anything about that is not the right answer either. Especially when what Ulrich Ulrich said is what I saw as well:
Agree all around.

Seeing the coverage of this issue underscores just how bad the media are in this day and age - and this isn't a political thing - the problem is universal across the board. Articles like the one I linked and the Andrew Das article in the NY Times that came a few years back are the exceptions. Most coverage was fawning of the women's team, assumed unequal treatment by US Soccer and ignored the complexity and nuance of the situation.
 

Shwafta

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Agree all around.

Seeing the coverage of this issue underscores just how bad the media are in this day and age - and this isn't a political thing - the problem is universal across the board. Articles like the one I linked and the Andrew Das article in the NY Times that came a few years back are the exceptions. Most coverage was fawning of the women's team, assumed unequal treatment by US Soccer and ignored the complexity and nuance of the situation.
I think the problem is - and I think it's a problem with our media as a whole, but it stems back to just our citizens as well - that in order to seem "forward thinking" and "equal rights", as long as you report "women, equal pay, rejected, AMERICA BAD" or something along those lines, it doesn't really matter the content. Most people will eat it up and not think twice about checking the full details.
 

Ulrich

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Agree all around.

Seeing the coverage of this issue underscores just how bad the media are in this day and age - and this isn't a political thing - the problem is universal across the board. Articles like the one I linked and the Andrew Das article in the NY Times that came a few years back are the exceptions. Most coverage was fawning of the women's team, assumed unequal treatment by US Soccer and ignored the complexity and nuance of the situation.
Main stream media really fcked this up trying to champion the WNT media darlings - MSM did a dis-service to the entire episode because it *was* known at the time that the WNT specifically structured their CBA to have the “salaried” structure for full-time players.

I pointed this out when the lawsuit first was filed, and it was why I thought the lawsuit was frivolous because it was comparing apples/oranges with the compensation. Most articles illustrated the two CBA terms, literally just listed the basics as a passing buried sentence(s), but none actually analyzed what they meant and how there is no risk with WNT salaries while the MNT were going for broke with their win bonuses, and tailspinned by not earning a WC berth. It wasn’t journalism as all.

And too many in the media, and fans, just wanted to pile on that there was an imbalance being mandated by USSF. I dislike USSF, and there’s a ton to truly hate about the org, but the pay wasn’t it.
 
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