As members of the United States women's national soccer team prepare for their gender discrimination trial against US Soccer, their teammates on the men's side issued a blistering statement of support.
The United States National Soccer Team Players Association, which is the union for the men's team, accused the United States Soccer Federation of "systematic gender discrimination," writing in a statement that the organization "continues to discriminate against the women in their wages and working conditions."
While the union said both the women's and men's teams have "always received less than fair compensation," the women were due "at least triple" in player compensation.
"The women's 2017-2021 deal is worse than the men's 2011-2018 deal," the union said. "What we believe should happen is simple. Pay the women significantly more than our recently expired men's deal."
The union went on to say that the federation is trying to keep the men's compensation at their expired 2018 deal, which is "not because there is any basis for that position. Instead, it's a desperate attempt to cover-up the fact that what they did to the women in 2017 is indefensible."
The women's team will take US Soccer to court on May 5. The team filed a lawsuit against the federation last March in California, with 28 members of the team listed as plaintiffs.
The suit alleges that US Soccer's payment practices amount to federal discrimination by paying them less than their male counterparts for "substantially equal work and by denying them at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment equal to the MNT."
In a hypothetical case cited in the lawsuit, if the women's and men's teams both won 20 straight games in a season, the women would make $164,320 less or 38% of what the men do, according to the Washington Post.
US Soccer responded to the union with its own statement, writing, "Our goal is to determine fair and equitable compensation for our USMNT and USWNT, while also being mindful of how and where we invest our overall financial resources so that we can continue to focus on investing in the development of our players, coaches and referees at all levels."
"We look forward to continuing our dialogue with the players' unions with the intention of finding a resolution that works for all parties," the federation added.
The union urged soccer fans to write to their Congressional representatives to tell them "it is time to reform the Federation."
Molly Levinson, a spokesperson for the players involved in the lawsuit, issued a statement on behalf of women's captain Megan Rapinoe to the New York Times.
"Our great hope is that 2020 will be the year of equal pay. We are grateful for the support of our male colleagues, and also for the overwhelming solidarity from millions of fans and sponsors around the world who have stood with us to fight USSF's discrimination," Rapinoe said.
"Achieving equal pay is so much bigger than our team and our playing fields -- women in workforces everywhere deserve equality now."