SAN DIEGO — The United States women’s soccer team claimed its fourth World Cup title last Sunday and now seeks to win another victory off the field as they fight for equal pay.
According to one local attorney and business professor, the momentum weighs heavily in favor towards a win for the team in the courtroom.
“I think everyone is ready for this conversation to move to the next step,” said co-captain Megan Rapinoe. “I think we’re done with the ‘are we worth it? Should we have equal pay?'”
In March, the women’s team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation claiming they’re paid far less than the men’s team, who they say stand to make nearly three times as much per game.
“The lawsuit is basically about wanting equal pay for equal work,” said Dr. Wendy Patrick, an attorney and SDSU business ethics professor. “Now you wouldn’t think that would be controversial but it’s more complicated then that, says U.S. Soccer. They’re basically saying there’s so many more factors than just the women play their game and the men play their game.”
Patrick adds that factors such as revenue, games played, bonuses and sponsorship deals are just a few examples of where pay discrepancy is key to this lawsuit.
“In this particular case, the women’s team rather than the men’s team has been wildly successful over the last couple of years and that has played out on such a national stage that the voices crying for equal pay for this team have almost become deafening,” said Patrick.
That became evident when fans began chanting “equal pay” immediately following their World Cup win — and again at the team’s victory parade Wednesday in Manhattan, New York.
“That moment I think just solidified everything,” said Rapinoe. “It was like this World Cup win is so much more than what was on the field. It seems like just one of those iconic turning points in history.”
The outpouring of world wide support combined with their continued success could provide more motivation for both sides to reach a timely settlement in the coming weeks.
Patrick adds that a case such as this, could also set new precedent.
“Sometimes litigation leads to legislation,” she said. “Maybe it will lead to new laws in other words because nobody wants to see women that are this talented and this outspoken and this inspirational, not treated fairly.”
The women’s national team continues to celebrate but not without recognizing its bigger battle has yet to be won.