Volkswagen issues statement in support of U.S. women's soccer team equal pay lawsuit
The U.S. women's national team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) citing gender discrimination a year ago following the revelation that women's team members are paid significantly less than the men's team despite winning the World Cup in 2015 and 2019. The men's team placed 15th in 2014 and did not qualify for the tournament in 2018.
The lawsuit, which named 28 team members as plaintiffs, filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, and they are seeking class-action status over "institutionalized gender discrimination" toward team members. The lawsuit was filed under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
One of the examples of disproportionate pay cited in the lawsuit states that U.S. Soccer paid $5.375 million in bonuses to the men's team in 2014 yet, when the women's team won the World Cup in 2015, they were only paid $1.725 million in bonuses.
A motion filed on behalf of the USSF challenged the lawsuit, saying, "The point is that the job of [a men's national team] player (competing against senior men's national teams) requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength than does the job of [a women's national team] player (competing against senior women's national teams)."
The wording in the motion was met with immediate criticism, not just by the plaintiffs but by the sponsors of the USSF, including Coca-Cola, Deloitte, and Volkswagen, the latter of which released a statement this afternoon:
"We at Volkswagen of America are disgusted by positions taken by U.S. Soccer and they are simply unacceptable. We place great emphasis on gender inclusivity and equality and require our partners do the same. We stand by the USWNT and the ideals they represent for the world. We demand that U.S. Soccer rise up to these values. #DriveBigger"
The outrage promoted an apology from USSF President Carlos Cordeiro.
US Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro releases a statement of apology to the #USWNT. The team is still playing a game right now. pic.twitter.com/2hxXK2idoK
— Tristan D'Amours (@tristandamours) March 12, 2020
When the lawsuit was originally filed last year, women's team member Alex Morgan said, "Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that," Morgan said, also in a news release. "We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility. As players, we deserved to be paid equally for our work, regardless of our gender."