But a spokeswoman for the World Cup champion women immediately skewered the claim as “utterly false” and “a ruse.”
In a letter and fact sheet released Monday amid the women’s equal pay lawsuit, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro detailed how the federation has compensated the U.S. women’s team in recent years. Cordeiro said U.S. soccer had paid $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the women’s team from 2010 through 2018, compared with $26.4 million to the men.
Those figures, Cordeiro noted, did not include benefits that only the women received, including health care and a retirement plan; nor did the total include the “unprecedented investments” made by U.S. Soccer in the women’s program as a whole.
“In the weeks ahead, we’ll focus on preparing for mediation and resolving this matter in the best interests of the [women’s national team] and U.S. Soccer,” Cordeiro wrote. “I want you to know that U.S. Soccer is committed to doing right by our players, and I’ve been encouraged by the public comments from players expressing their desire for a cooperative approach. I remain optimistic that we can find common ground.”
In a blistering statement, Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the women’s team, slammed Cordeiro’s letter as a “sad attempt” to undermine “the overwhelming tide of support” the players have received from fans, sponsors and U.S. lawmakers.
U.S. Soccer “has repeatedly admitted that it does not pay the women equally and that it does not believe the women even deserve to be paid equally,” Levinson said, according to ESPN. “This is why they use words like ‘fair and equitable,’ not ‘equal’ in describing pay.”
As The Associated Press noted, it’s difficult to compare the compensation of the U.S. women’s team with the U.S. men’s team because they operate under separate collective bargaining agreements and with different pay structures.
The players on the women’s team, for instance, have a base salary, while the men are paid based on game appearances and performance bonuses.
Neither the collective bargaining agreements nor the men’s bonus structure have been made public, AP said.
Because of these differences, Levinson contended the fact sheet Cordeiro disseminated was misleading.
″[The] fact sheet is not a ‘clarification.’ It is a ruse,” Levinson said. “Here is what they cannot deny: For every game a man plays ... he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the [women’s national team]. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination.”