Sammy Nickalls
Updated Mar 31, 2016 @ 6:53 am
women's soccer players
Credit: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

Five major members of the U.S. women’s soccer team — co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Megan Rapinoe, and goalkeeper Hope Solo — have filed a federal complaint against U.S. Soccer for wage discrimination, reports the New York Times.

The filing maintains that the women’s team is the “driving economic force” and “governing body” for the sport, according to the NYT. The complaint, which was submitted to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, requests an investigation of U.S. Soccer.

“I think the timing is right,” Carli Lloyd told Today in an interview this morning. “I think that we’ve proven our worth over the years. Just coming off of a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. And we want to continue to fight.”

The math just doesn’t add up, says their lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler. Citing last month’s budget figures released by U.S. Soccer, he told NYT that the case is “the strongest case of discrimination against women athletes in violation of law that I have ever seen.”

“[Men and women in soccer] have identical work requirements,” Jeffrey Kessler told NYT. “The same number of minimum friendlies, the same requirements about participating and making the World Cup teams — identical work. But the women have without dispute vastly outperformed the men not just on the playing field but economically for the U.S.S.F. The women have generated all the money in comparison with the men.”

The gap is undeniably massive. According to Today, when the United States Women’s National Team won the World Cup in 2015, they also won $2 million in prize money; this money was divvied up between the players and the organization. The men’s team, after losing the World Cup in 2016, earned $9 million, while the winning team — Germany — earned $35 million. This isn’t even taking into account ratings — which were topped by far by the women’s team with a record 26.7 million tuning in to watch their World Cup match against Japan — or award titles (the women’s team has won three gold Olympic medals and three World Cup titles, and the men have won neither).

“I’ve been through numerous CBA [collective bargaining agreement] negotiations, and honestly not much has changed,” Hope Solo told Today. “We believe now the time is right because we believe it’s a responsibility for women’s sports, specifically women’s soccer, to really do whatever it takes for equal pay and equal rights and to be treated with respect.”

In a statement released to press, U.S. Soccer said they are “disappointed” about the lawsuit:

However, the women’s soccer players aren’t backing down. “These women are very disappointed in U.S. soccer,” Jeffrey Kessler told Today. “When they asked for the same treatment as the men, they were told it was irrational. Now that might be a good answer in 1816. It’s not [an] acceptable answer in 2016.”

It’s no secret that the wage gap is a very real and problematic issue even today. Even female celebrities are no exception, including actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Amanda Seyfried, who have famously spoken out on the Hollywood gender gap. It’s dismaying that women’s soccer has the same problem, so we applaud the women in U.S. Soccer for taking a stand and asking for what they deserve.