Bring it: The summer of Equal Pay is upon us is a big way — Women’s soccer links galore and what Cindy Parlow Cone said about the dispute
The IX: Soccer Mondays with Annie M. Peterson, June 21, 2021
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The equal pay saga continues for both the USWNT and U.S. Soccer. Last week USSF President Cindy Parlow Cone addressed the issue in a teleconference in which she proclaimed that the national team’s demand for equal FIFA Prize money is a non-starter.
First, let’s take a look back.
The players sued the federation in March 2019, contending they have not been paid equitably to players on the men’s team. They asked for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
A U.S. District Court judge threw out that part of the lawsuit, but the team appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case is currently awaiting a ruling. Meanwhile, the two sides agreed to more equitable working conditions, and the judge approved that settlement in April.
While there was hope that the two sides might come to an agreement on the pay issue, Parlow Cone indicated that a sticking point was World Cup prize money. The federation claims the players want it to make up the gap in the prize money distributed by FIFA.
“Asking U.S. Soccer to make up the difference in FIFA prize money is untenable and would likely bankrupt the federation or at the very least put the federation in incredibly challenging financial situation that would eliminate our ability to fund important programs,” Parlow Cone said.
Among the programs Parlow Cone cited were the youth national teams and development programs.
FIFA awarded $400 million in prize money for the 32 teams at the 2018 men’s World Cup, including $38 million to champion France. It awarded $30 million for the 24 teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, including $4 million to the U.S. after the Americans won their second straight title.
FIFA has increased the total to $440 million for the 2022 men’s World Cup, and has proposed $60 million for the 2023 Women’s World Cup with an increased field of 32 teams.
Parlow Cone indicated the federation was willing to consider a type of pool system. You can see more of her comments below.
So I’m guessing U.S. Soccer was on the offensive here: With the Olympics looming, there’s likely to be more talk about the lawsuit and gender equity, especially if the United States wins the gold.
But more than that, the federation likely wanted to get out in front of the documentary “LFG” on the team’s fight, which comes out on HBO later this week.
Here’s an interview with the filmmakers that aired on MSNBC. The filmmakers are blunt: They are not passive observers, they are champions for equal pay.
This is kind of Part Deux of this play. We saw similar attention on the legal fight during the World Cup in France — and the game-changing moment when fans chanted “Equal Pay” in Lyon. While there won’t be fans this time, and COVID-19 will be the theme, I’m guessing the players will figure out a way to get their message heard.
And if you saw the trailer, Becky Sauerbrunn gives new meaning to the phrase “Becky With the Good Hair.”
But be ready for the pushback, too, from the usual suspects. Bad-faith attacks and arguments are already bubbling up. The “go back to the kitchen and make me a sandwich” crowd will be out in full force.
Could be a long hot summer.
Oh, and one other thing I wanted to draw your attention to: Kumi Yokoyama has come out as transgender, and will use they/their pronouns. They have undergone a gender-affirming procedure, and will fully transition following their playing career.
Dan Orlowitz with the Japan Times did an informative story. Please give it a read and support the work.
(Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! email@example.com.
Confession time: We are about to get flooded with player features ahead of the Olympics. Many of these interviews are offered to journalists based on sponsorships and products. It’s a great thing that USWNT players are partnering with all kinds of companies! But sometimes the result is basically a free “commercial.” I tend to resist these type of stories myself, so I’m not inclined to add them here. If you have a different opinion, I’d love to hear it.
Stephanie Yang’s Olympic roster predictions for The Athletic.
Here’s Steven Goff’s analysis of the potential roster for the Washington Post.
For our neighbors to the North, Harjeet Johal looks at the possible Canadian Olympic roster.
Julia Poe with a must-read on the Orlando Pride’s support of transgender youth.
OMG Formiga will play for Brazil in the Olympics. It’s her SEVENTH.
Sandra Herrera for CBS Sports spoke to North Carolina’s Carson Pickett.
Speaking of Herrera, Jeff Kassouf spent time with her for his Kickin’ Back podcast.
The News and Observer’s story on Jessica McDonald’s Tweet about CBS showing a black child and identifying him as her son.
Andre Carlisle wonders why the NWSL is still playing the anthem before games, for Black and Red United.
Dan Lauletta ponders the Reign, for The Equalizer.
A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction that allows teenager Olivia Moultrie to sign with an NWSL team.
Lyon has signed one of my favorite players, goalkeeper Christiane Endler.
Becca Moros is the new coach at Arizona.
The USWNT debuted new kits. I like them.
I liked this story for ESPN on Nigeria’s Payne sisters.
Kelley O’Hara talked to Abby Wambach for her Just Women’s Sports podcast.
All For XI’s Kudzi Musarurwa says Jess Fishlock is one of the most complete midfielders in the NWSL.
TWEETS OF THE WEEK
Good to see Lisa Baird acknowledge this.
Five at The IX: Cindy Parlow Cone and Will Wilson
Parlow Cone: I’m a forever optimist. I think a lot of the way the women see the game and the federation does is in line. I think the biggest hurdle is the difference in the FIFA World Cup prize money. So if we can find creative ways to come to resolution on that, I’m very hopeful. And I think in the reset of our relationship with the women’s national team, and working through the Title VII claims that were in the litigation, there was a lot back and forth, and camaraderie in trying to figure out a path forward on that. A lot of it was codifying what we’d already done. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t take a lot of work and collaboration between the two groups. I think we can build off of that and hopefully come to a resolution on this outside of court.
Wilson: I think Cindy answered that really well. And I think it’s important to note the women obviously at this point in time are just focused on the Olympics and that’s where their focus is at this stage. But I too am hopeful that at the appropriate time that we will be able to resolve that.
Question: Are there any settlement talks scheduled and how might a settlement impact discussions about a new CBA, which, if I’m not mistaken, is due to end at the end of this year?
Wilson: We’re always open to find solutions on the settlement and how we can go forward. I think that’s the most important point, is that we’re open, we’re available and always ready to have those discussions.
Question: And in terms of the CBA?
Wilson: When you start to get into those conversations, there obviously are impacts, things are are connected in many different ways. But we’ll address those at the appropriate time when we have those discussions.
Parlow Cone: Just to build on that, right now the women, as it should be, their focus is on the Olympics, and being all-in and doing everything that they can to help themselves win the Olympics and we fully support that.
Question: You haven’t talked to their representation at all?
Parlow Cone: We’re always talking. That’s a constant on the men’s side and the women’s side. It’s not like we just talk to them about CBAs, there’s constant conversation.
U.S. Soccer Spokesman: Just for some clarification there, we obviously are always talking to the PAs about a lot of different things. What you’re talking about, negotiations on a new CBA, what Cindy and Will are saying is we’ll have those conversations post-Olympics when they’re ready.
Question: Hoping to maybe get kind of a historical clarification on when, obviously there have been multiple CBAs, but were there ever wages paid to the women’s national team, even perhaps for you as a player in ’99 that were tied to World Cup performance before prize money was perhaps the negotiated thing? Are you aware of that?
Parlow Cone: I don’t remember. That was over 20 years ago.
Question: The reason I want to ask you is because I think it is up to every federation to figure out how they disperse prize money. I think what we’ve seen in other countries, is that when they consider it an equal deal, the percentages are the same. That’s kind of the structure that we have been seeing. So just in terms of your perspective from some of these negotiations, where do you think the ground is for that room for compromise on how prize money could potentially work moving forward?
Parlow Cone: We’re open to any idea and being creative in this area to find a path forward to realize the prize money. I know people have brought up pooling, brought up percentages of prize money. We’re open to all of that. Our issue arises, until FIFA equalizes the World Cup prize money, to ask U.S. Soccer to make up that difference is just really untenable. But as far as finding a creative solution, we’re more than open to have those conversation.
Wilson: Just to build on that, obviously equal percentage is something that we’re certainly open to and willing to do. It comes down to the amount of the prize money and the difference between the two. And we’re certainly open to solutions, that’s for sure.
Question: Senator Joe Manchin introduced a bill recently, or reintroduced a bill, threatening to withhold support of some kind for the 2026 World Cup if equitable pay is not is not given to the women’s team. Has anyone from the senator’s office reached out to you? And what would be your response to that legislation?
Wilson: Cindy and I have been pretty proactive in reaching out and speaking with a number of congressmen and women, as well as senators, over the last several months on this topic. And what I’d say is that we continue to be open to have that conversation with anyone in that realm, including Senator Manchin’s office. So we’re open to that and have been proactive in talking about that. And we’re obvioulsy committed to equal pay.
Parlow Cone: I’ll just add on to that, I obviously totally embrace equal pay, so on that front, no issues. But I certainly hope that this is settled long before 2026. In regards to the 2026 funding, U.S. Soccer doesn’t receive federal funds, and any federal funds associated with the World Cup would be for security, which is the case for any major international event. The other thing I would add on to that is, let’s not forget that the World Cup in 2026 doesn’t just benefit the men’s and boy’s side of the game. It’s great for everyone involved in the game and will also significantly grow the women’s side of the game.