The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, July 29, 2019

Breaking news! U.S. Soccer President puts out letter to federation to clear up "confusion." Links, too, and Thorns post-game transcript

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This just in

So the theme song for today’s The IX is this wonderful song from Soul II Soul. Opening line: “Back to life, back to reality …” It’s here, and give it a listen because it will brighten your day. I just got back from a no-sports trip to Mexico, so it seemed appropriate.

So guys, sorry for the delay, I had The IX all written when WHAMMO, U.S. Soccer drops a letter from President Carlos Cordeiro to its membership seeking to clear up “confusion” over Equal Pay.

Two of the big highlights (But you can read the whole thing here):

The federation has paid out $34.1 million in salary and game bonuses to the women between 2010-2018, as opposed to $26.4 million paid to the men. Those figures do not include benefits received only by the women, like health care.

USSF also says the men’s team generates more revenue. The women’s team generated $101.3 million over the course of 238 games between 2009 and 2019 while the men generated $185.7 over 191 games, according to the federation.

There’s this random nugget, too. USWNT games have generated a net profit (ticket revenues minus event expenses) in 2016 and 2017 alone. Across the 11-year span, the USWNT games generated a net loss of $27.5 million.

OK, couple of things to unpack here. First, you can’t begrudge US Soccer for trying to make its case, especially in the face of all the criticism that it has received. I mean, the “Equal Pay” chants after the World Cup final were pretty damaging.

But when you take a deeper dive in the numbers, there’s more stuff in the letter and the accompanying “fact sheet” that aren’t said. And there’s no context.

For instance, there’s the simple fact that the men haven’t been as good. Had they won two World Cups in the span, and gone on victory tours, what would their salaries look like? And therein lies the inequity.

And I’m curious about adding the investment piece in the talking points. My guess is that because the non-profit status of the organization has been brought up in context of the revenue argument, this was something U.S. Soccer wanted to emphasize.

Still, Cordeiro struck a somewhat conciliatory tone: “The team’s lawsuit has also contributed to an important and necessary national discussion about equality. This is a conversation that U.S. Soccer welcomes. Even as we’re proud of our record as a champion for women’s soccer, we always strive to do even better. If we find areas where we can improve, we’ll work to do so in close partnership with our Women’s National Team.”

Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the players in matters surrounding the lawsuit, also sent along a statement that was telling in that she says the women did ask for a bonus structure similar to the men’s. I had always been under the impression that the women determined base salaries were more important.

Here’s Levinson’s full statement:

“This is a sad attempt by USSF to quell the overwhelming tide of support the USWNT has received from everyone from fans to sponsors to the United States Congress. The USSF 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. This is why they use words like ‘fair and equitable,’ not equal in describing pay. The numbers USSF uses are utterly false which, among other things, inappropriately include the NWSL salaries of the players to inflate the women’s players compensation. Any apples to apples comparison shows that the men earn far more than the women. The fact is the women’s team requested the same compensation structure as the men have, so they would be paid equally for equal performance. USSF refused, offering lower compensation in every category for the women’s team in a pay for performance structure. That is patently unequal pay. The USSF fact sheet is not a “ clarification.” It is a ruse. Here is what they cannot deny. For every game a man plays on the MNT he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination. For the USSF to believe otherwise, is disheartening but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay. If the USSF cannot agree to this at the upcoming mediation, we will see them in the court of law and the court of public opinion.”

Y’all can read my story for the AP here.

On to the links!

This Week in Women’s Soccer

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Andrew Das for the New York Times on today’s USSF news. Also the NYT Magazine did a nice interactive with Megan Rapinoe.

Graham Hays for ESPN on the Cordeiro letter.

Rachel Bachman’s take for the Wall Street Journal.

One more look at the letter from Stephanie Yang.

SI gets into the messy issue of Hope Solo’s involvement in mediation. Wondering how this one is going to shake out.

Steven Goff for the Washington Post on the NWSL’s World Cup bump.

My The IX colleague Howard Megdal with a bump story for Forbes.

Meg Linehan wrote about the importance of sponsorship for The Athletic. Linehan also wrote before today’s news about the public pressure on U.S. Soccer.

Really nice story on Celia Jimenez in The Equalizer.

RJ Allen looks at a possible NWSL All-Decade team.

FIFA looking for quick expansion of the Women’s World Cup to 32 teams, from my colleague Graham Dunbar.

Tweet of the Week

Five at The IX: Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan

So ya’ll, I was in Mexico and didn’t work. (My children made this rule, not me). So here’s what Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan had to say after Portland’s 5-0 victory over the Houston Dash last Wednesday. Thanks to the Portland Thorns for providing the quotes.

On coming back from the World Cup and playing at Providence Park:
“Amazing. It felt so good to be home playing in front of our crowd, playing with my teammates that I love, in the renovated stadium on a Wednesday night in front of 22,000 plus people. It was just spectacular. This place never stops amazing me.”

On what was working for the Thorns in the first half:
“I think it was everything. To be honest, I think it was just more of a feeling. I feel like it was everybody wanting to be back together, wanting to play, coming out with a lot of energy and just being super stoked to be back. That first half made life really easy.”

On the energy of the team coming out in the first half:
“It was a good time against a good opponent. I really think this team has five more levels that we can get to. I think it was a good welcome back to get everyone playing, getting everyone to have a really good feeling. That’s what it looked like and felt like out there.”

On her combination with Christine Sinclair in the first half:
“He said that at halftime and Sinc [Christine Sinclair] and I looked at each other and just said that we missed playing with each other. It was nice to be back together. I always say that I’m lucky to play with her and a bunch of other players. We’ve been playing together for a long time and she’s so easy to play with. It’s fun.”

On what the team said to Lindsey Horan after her bicycle-kick attempt:
“We were like, ‘Why didn’t you score?’ It was class. You see a lot of bikes, but she hit it so well. I thought [Houston Dash goalkeeper] Jane [Campbell] should have just let it go in. Why did she save that? That was a shame, but it counts in my book for a lot of things.”

On scoring four goals in under 30 minutes:
Horan: “We were home, so having the fans behind us was incredible. We haven’t all been home together in so long and everyone back so I think we just wanted to come out and put on a show. I think from the very get-go we wanted it so badly and were moving for each other and were playing, and playing with purpose and just having fun and it resulted to four goals in the first half, so awesome. Really proud of the team.”

On practicing bicycle kicks in practice.
Horan: “Not here, but I used to when I was little. I’ve been waiting for the moment to get a bike and that sucked.”

On tonight’s crowd at Providence Park:
Horan: “The crowd was amazing. I was so happy the whole game. I couldn’t stop smiling. Just being back here is, again, like nothing else.”

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Annie Peterson