USWNT vs US Soccer: Movement or PR stunt? Maybe both

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, September 20, 2021

The saga between U.S. Soccer and the USWNT’s fight for equal pay escalated this past week with the federation publicly releasing a pair of proposals.

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The first asked the men’s and women’s players to figure out a way to distribute FIFA prize money between the two teams. At least on the surface, this looks like the federation is pitting the men against the women. It also looks like the federation is pushing the issue off on the unions. Punting?

Here’s a link to the letter US Soccer released to fans.

The second was to offer the men and women identical contracts. Again, you can find the link here.

(And let’s just make this clear, it’s NOT about the lawsuit. It’s about the contract. At this point, these are separate issues.)

But wait! There’s a catch! The USSF says the prize money issue must be resolved before the contract negotiations can go forward. Reminder: The men’s team is currently operating without a contract (but rather a memo of understanding), the women’s contract expires at the end of the year.

And of course, it got a little publicly testy.

US Soccer is CLEARLY upset about LFG. But it may be more productive not to fight this battle in public. Especially on Twitter. It’s not a good look.

The Athletic‘s Meg Linehan weighed in.

I sincerely believe that U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone wants to come to a thoughtful and more equitable conclusion. This has been hanging over the federation for far too long and it’s looked bad for them.

The public posturing is part of the deal. Remember all the drama in the run-up to the last USWNT CBA in 2017? The dismissal of Rich Nichols? US Soccer going to court over the team’s ability to strike? Then they came to an agreement and, at least publicly, both sides were elated.

From the players’ perspective, and outside of the Twitter commentary, Alex Morgan said the teams are in active negotiations and that the players want to see how these proposals actually figure into the talks.

Morgan said the team does not want to start the new year without an agreement. This echoes what other players have said in private.

“Looking at the (USSF) statements it’s difficult to say, we want to feel encouraged and we want to be optimistic, but we have seen a lot of statements before. What we really want to do is see what we can do at the negotiation table, see it see those statements be put into action in those negotiations. So, of course we’re always hopeful, you have to continue to have hope.”

She also said the players haven’t really had time to digest the details, but the general feeling is that the players don’t want to lose anything they’ve already had, like the benefits the previous contract afforded the women.

“We still need to chat about the statement given by US Soccer. But any commitment to equal pay publicly is good. However, we need to look line by line at what they’re actually providing because if you have equal but it’s not even what we got before, or to the value that we are, then we still consider that to be not good enough.”

So, to answer the question I posed in the headline. Yeah, maybe it’s a bit of a PR play on the part of U.S. Soccer, but does it signal movement? I think it’s definitely something that both sides can chew on. But I’d suggest both sides stay off Twitter. 🙂


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From AP: Carli Lloyd’s 5 goal game against Paraguay.

From me (Click Please!): Thorns get their 3 points.

More from me: Alex Morgan comments on the US Soccer proposals.

From my colleague Ron Blum: US Soccer offers men’s and women’s teams identical contracts.

Also from Ron Blum: US Soccer asks the teams to hash the FIFA prize money issue out amongst themselves.

Steph Yang’s brilliant piece for The Athletic about the progress for LGBTQ athletes in soccer.

Wonderful story from Shaun Goodwin for the Kansas City Star on Desiree Scott’s adoption of her foster brother.

John Halloran has an excellent piece in The Equalizer about how supporters are reacting to the turbulence in the league.

Sophie Lawson wrote a nice piece about Japan’s WE League for All For XI.

Meredith Cash on US Soccer’s proposals, and the reaction to it, for The Insider.

Cincinnati Enquirer’s story on hometown player Rose Lavelle and playing in Cincy.

Our fearless leader, Howard Megdal, writes for Forbes about U.S. Soccer’s efforts to get ahead on the PR aspect of all of this.

CBC asks an important question! Where’s the merchandise celebrating Canada’s gold?

No. 4 Duke beat No. 2 North Carolina at Dorrance Field.

The NWSLPA becomes an AFL-CIO affiliate.

Five at The IX: Rose Lavelle

Rose spoke over the weekend in advance of the USWNT’s game in Cincinnati. Here’s a bit of what she said.

Question: Your first cap with the national team came in the rebuilding process after the 2016 Olympics, and now going into this next rebuild, you’re an established member of the team. How does this challenge your mentality?

Rose: I don’t know if I would say changes my mentality. Obviously coming off the Olympics, we were obviously grateful to get a medal but that wasn’t the metal we set out to get. So I think we’re ready to get back out and reprove ourselves. I think, hopefully we’ll be seeing new faces in camp because I think it’s always good to bring in some like good players who can push everyone here and push for spots, I think that’s what’s made this team, so great and so successful and what makes this environment so hard is there’s always somebody knocking on the door, ready to take your spot. And I think there’s a lot of really, really good players performing in the league that hopefully will get brought in and just continue to raise the level and make everybody better.

Question: It occurred to me this week, and maybe during while I was watching the match in Cleveland, that your career arc has kind of run parallel to that of FC Cincinnati’s I think in terms of the growth of soccer locally.

Rose: That’s like an interesting take. I haven’t ever thought about how soccer and me have kind of … I don’t know what to say. I’ve always said I think Cincinnati is such an underrated soccer city and I’m so glad that now, having a team here, people are seeing it and I feel like the city is getting to showcase that. I think it’s such a great city with a lot of young talent. And hopefully, people, girls, boys, in Cincinnati can see themselves in me and see that it’s possible for a Midwest person to get to this level. Yeah I think it’s cool, when I was growing up I had Heather Mitts to look up to and I was like obsessed with her and I think it just made it so much more real to me that somebody from where I was from was in a place that I wanted to get to. So yeah I hope that I can like serve as that same kind of like inspiration to people in this area.

: How is it for you to come back to your hometown and kind of play a starring role in some of these big local soccer events.

Rose: I don’t know if I think of myself as having a starring role but I am very, very excited to be able to come and play in Cincinnati. I’m always so happy anytime I get to come home but to be able to come home and kind of show off the city to all my teammates, I’m just so excited about it. And I know that TQL is going to be just bumping and have the best atmosphere so I’m excited for everybody to get to experience that. Yeah, it’s going to be really fun. I’m just going to be glowing the whole night out of happiness.

Question: You’re coming to TQL stadium, a soccer specific stadium in Cincinnati. What does this mean for soccer in the city?

Rose: I think it’s so cool that it’s like soccer has a home here and it’s here to stay. I will say when we played that Nippert, I think that that stadium so cool because it’s just like — it’s so big but it’s so close to the field too, so I feel like it feels like such an intimate setting and you can like to hear all the fans that much louder because, I mean they’re right onto the field, basically. So that was so fun last time we played there. But I am so excited that soccer has a place in this city and it keeps growing and there’s more buzz and excitement around it, I feel like every single year. And to get to be a part of that on Tuesday is going to be, is going to be so special.

Question: What were you saying your family and friend contingent is going to number this game?

Rose: I’m from a big family, my mom’s one of 12, so I have like 40, cousins, and so I think there’s going to be about, between everybody, probably like 60 or 70 of my family there.

Question: You said the bronze medal wasn’t exactly what you guys were looking for out of the Olympics. Now that you’ve had a little more time to reflect on how the Olympics, when I’m wondering what you think the team learned about itself?

Rose: That’s a great question and I’m not sure. I think that, at the Olympics, there wasn’t just one thing that we could point to that we were like this for sure is the reason behind the way everything’s going. So I think it’s kind of just — and I feel like this sounds cliche and is not very specific — but I think for this group it’s like kind of getting back to the details, in every realm, whether that’s, fitness, the physical aspect, the mental aspect, being turned on on every set piece. Every single thing I cross the board I think we maybe got away from the details and there was like a lot of things that contributed to it. So I think it’s like going back and remembering that every little thing matters and everything adds up to a percentage so even if it’s something only going to make you 1% better we, we do it and we we buy into it. Sorry that’s like not a very specific answer but I feel like there was just a lot that played into our performance and we’ve got time to grow, so fine, we’ll go back to the drawing board and get better.

Written by Annie Peterson