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U.S. women's soccer stars demand equal pay
03:28 - Source: CNN

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USWNT star players are suing U.S. soccer over pay gap

Women's team is not only more successful than the men but they also bring in more money

CNN  — 

Key members of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) have filed a lawsuit demanding pay parity from U.S. soccer’s governing body.

The five players who filed the suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn, did so through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal body that tackles workplace discrimination.

They say that they filed the complaint on behalf on the entire team, which sometimes earns as little as between a half and a quarter of their male counterparts, depending on bonuses.

The case should be the legal equivalent of an open goal, some analysts say. Not only are the U.S. women much more successful than the men, they also generate much more revenue for U.S. Soccer.

“It’s been noted… that the women’s team itself has generated more money by far – by $20 million in 2015 than the men’s team did,” sportscaster, journalist and author John Bacon tells CNN’s Natalie Allen.

“Their case is based on how much they’re getting paid, how much they’re winning, but also how much they’re generating for the U.S. Soccer Federation.”

He says that “pretty clearly” they should at least close the pay gap on their male colleagues, and says, “you might argue they should be getting more than the men.

“Winning does help, doesn’t it?”

In a statement released March 31, U.S. Soccer said that its “efforts to be advocates for women’s soccer are unwavering,” adding that it is committed to negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement for the women’s team at the end of 2016.

Serial winners

The USWNT, which has been serially successful, winning three World Cups – it is the current holder – and four Olympic golds, including the London Olympics in 2012, claims that its winning ways should translate into equal pay.

Despite being far more successful on the field, the complaint alleges that the women’s team earns around a quarter of its male counterpart, which has a solitary Olympic silver medal to show for their century-plus history of competing – and that came in 1904, in St Louis.

Men’s soccer stars Tim Howard and Landon Donovan have come out of support of this motion, Bacon says, and this action “has the support, I think, of almost the entire nation.”

The timing “could not be better,” Bacon says, this coming as gender pay gaps have become a hot-button issue in the upcoming Presidential election.

I think their odds of winning are excellent… any logical reason that you can give me that they’re not to be paid the same simply breaks down very quickly, so you’re going to hear al kinds of crazy stuff … (but) the women have, in my opinion, a rock-solid case.”

Trail blazers

Bacon compares the motion as similar to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball, and Billie Jean King in 1972 campaigning for equal rights for tennis players.

“This will have ripples that last for years.”

The motion certainly has already caught the attention of the two Democrats vying for their party’s nomination, with both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton tweeting support for the suit.

Sanders said, via Twitter, that the time for pay parity was “long overdue,” and that he felt that the USWNT suit would be a success.

Clinton added her voice to the debate, tweeting that she “wouldn’t want to face these women on the field or in the courtroom,” adding that “every woman deserves equal pay.”

The three Republican candidates, however, did not mention the decision on their social media accounts.

The suit comes hot on the heels of the resignation of a prominent tennis figure, Indian Wells tournament director Raymond Moore, who said that the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) “ride on the coattails of the men.”

The furore swelled to envelop one of the sport’s most successful male athletes, Novak Djokovic, who was forced to backtrack on comments he made, saying the attendance and “attention,” that the men’s tour generated meant that he felt those players deserved more money.