U.S. Soccer: The game is not the same

Let’s skip the intro and get right into it …

You may want to refer to the original, because this is a paragraph-by-paragraph response. Miki Turner has done some of the screenshots already, so expect to see his Tweets throughout …

(NOTE: When I say POINT here, I don’t mean my point. This is what USSF is arguing. As you’ll see, I find at least one of those points baffling.)

POINT 1: The games are different. Paragraph 1:

U.S. Soccer denies the remaining allegations in this paragraph and states that under applicable international rules, the players on the USMNT are forbidden from playing on the USWNT, that the USWNT and USMNT play at different times, in different locations, against different opponents, and are comprised of athletes who have different obligations, are compensated in fundamentally different ways, and enjoy different benefits; thus, USWNT players have no male “counterparts” who play for the USMNT.

The “forbidden from playing on USWNT” might be legally necessary, but it’s not a great way to start this if you’re trying to win over the public (which may or may not matter).

But the important part here is valid: Women’s soccer and men’s soccer are different. They work just as hard, yes. The games they play are different.

Then after the boilerplate stuff (yes, Alex Morgan exists and lives in town X and has played for the national team; Megan Rapinoe exists and lives …, etc.), USSF expounds upon that point.

Paragraph 39 of the WNT complaint talks about “the same job duties” and “similar working conditions.” It’s one of the weakest arguments the WNT raises, and USSF denies it in full.

And see Paragraphs 44-50, which surprisingly don’t go into much detail.

POINT 2: Hey, we didn’t say that …

USSF claims it has never “admitted that it pays its female player employees less than its male player employees and has gone so far as to claim that “’market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men.’” The precise language is “U.S. Soccer denies the remaining allegations in this paragraph.” It’s Paragraph 2. Get used to seeing that phrase more and more.

Similarly …

POINT 3: No, the WNT’s revenues aren’t higher than the MNT’s. Except occasionally.

And this …

(The key part there is the smaller of Miki’s screenshots — I hate the way Twitter embeds restate the tweet to which it responds.)

POINT 4: The pay structures are apples and oranges.

“U.S. Soccer further states that no pay comparison can be made between the USWNT players, who earn guaranteed salaries and benefits, and the USMNT players, who are paid strictly on a match appearance fee basis.”

That’s Paragraph 51, and it’s restated in different words in the next two paragraphs.

Paragraph 54 of the WNT complaint is simply ridiculous. The claim that USSF denied the WNT’s request for equal pay is only true if the WNT asked for a contract without its salaries and benefits. (See Paragraph 62 below.) The claim that the WNT isn’t paid for games against teams outside the top 10 is absolutely wrong because, again, the women are on salary. They get paid even if they’re not called up for a game.

The next WNT argument is that a “similarly situated” MNT player would make much more than a WNT player (Paragraph 58). USSF reiterates that it’s simply not comparable.

What about charter flights? Paragraph 72 says “there are many factors” that determine charters. What I’ve been told, and what makes sense to me, is that the WNT hasn’t had charters because they simply don’t travel as a team. They flew to Scandinavia as individuals. The MNT has had situations in which it flies from qualifier to qualifier or Gold Cup game to Gold Cup game. This year, with the World Cup, expect WNT charters. (If they don’t do that, yikes.)

POINT 5: That’s simply not true

I’m guessing we will see the men’s CBA entered into evidence at some point here.

Then who rejected what?

Paragraph 62, WNT complaint:

During collective bargaining for a new contract, USSF rejected requests for compensation for the WNT players that would have been at least equal to that afforded to the male MNT players.

Paragraph 64, USSF response:

U.S. Soccer denies the remaining allegations in this paragraph and states the USWNTPA consistently rejected all proposals for a “pay-for-play” structure similar to the one in that the USMNT players accepted during the 2017 CBA negotiations.

I’m a little surprised no reporter who has the time to really dig into this (read: not me at the moment) has found out whether the WNT has ever asked to go without salaries and get the MNT pay structure.

POINT 6: Head-scratchers

USSF denies that it has complete control over whether the WNT plays on turf? (Paragraph 68)



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