US Soccer argues male players have more 'skill' than female players in equal pay case

U.S. Soccer defended itself in the equal pay lawsuit filed by the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT), claiming the World Cup champions’ male counterparts have “more responsibility” and their job “requires a higher level of skill.”

In a Monday court filing, the organization argued it had not violated the Equal Pay Act [EPA] by paying the women’s team less than the men’s team, writing “the job of MNT player carries more responsibility within U.S. Soccer than the job of WNT player, from an EPA standpoint.”

“This ridiculous 'argument' belongs in the Paleolithic Era. It sounds as if it has been made by a caveman," Molly Levinson, spokesperson for USWNT, said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday.

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"Literally everyone in the world understands that an argument that male players 'have more responsibility' is just plain simple sexism and illustrates the very gender discrimination that caused us to file this lawsuit to begin with," Levinson added. "So looking forward to trial on May 5.”

Attorneys for U.S. Soccer asked members of the women’s team in court whether they believed they could be competitive against their male counterparts, according to documents filed last month, with midfielder Carli Lloyd responding “I’m not sure. Shall we fight it out to see who wins and then we get paid more?”

“Do you think it requires more skill to play for the U.S. Men’s National Team than the US Women’s National Team?” another U.S. Soccer attorney asked striker Alex Morgan, to which she responded, “No, it’s a different skill.”

U.S. Soccer also argued male players face a more demanding threat due to the presence of potentially hostile fans, as the visiting team often attracts more fans at men's games than the women's team does.

 

Midfielder Megan Rapinoe said Monday that the team would need “an actual offer for equal pay, and some considerable damages as well” for the case not to reach that stage. 

--This report was updated at 3:32 p.m.