The US women’s soccer team is arguably the best in the world. They’ve won the World Cup three times and have four Olympic gold medals, and are favorites to win another.
The men’s team has never won one of those titles. It’s never even come close.
That the men nevertheless get higher wages, bigger bonuses (whether they win or lose), and better conditions in everything from accommodation to pitch surface has long riled some in the game. Now five top female players have said they will file a federal complaint with US Soccer, the game’s governing body in America, saying they are discriminated against, reports the New York Times (paywall).
The complaint reportedly has been signed by Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, the team’s co-captains, forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and by Hope Solo, the goalkeeper.
It’s the latest move in a bitter dispute. The women’s team has long noted that it earns most of the money for US Soccer—a projected $2.3 million for the victory tour already planned to celebrate its expected win at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is just one example. But it also has long accused the governing body of treating it poorly. In one high-profile scandal, a match in Hawaii was cancelled after the team discovered it was to be played on “unsafe” artificial grass.
On the men’s team, a player can expect over $17,000 for winning against a top opponent, the Times reports, and still receive bonus payments for a loss. Women receive less than $1,400 for a similar win, and nothing for a loss.
The conflict is part of a wider debate about how much women are paid in sport. Across most of the industry, for example tennis, it is much less than their male counterparts.