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Jeff Kessler targets U.S. soccer over pay inequity


Attorney Jeffrey Kessler, for years a thorn in the side of the NFL, has a new target. And he may already be on track toward hitting the bull’s-eye.

Via the New York Times, Kessler is representing a group of U.S. women’s soccer players in a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over a discrepancy in pay between the women and men who play the sport under the American flag.

“We have been quite patient over the years with the belief that the federation would do the right thing and compensate us fairly,” said co-captain Carli Lloyd in a statement issued by Kessler.

In most sports (like basketball), the difference in pay for men and women flows naturally from the differences in revenue generated by the two versions of the same game. But that’s not the case when it comes to soccer, where the U.S. women’s team is both more successful and more profitable than the men’s team.

But the men have made and continue to make more money than the women, making this a case that should be far easier for Kessler to prove than his football-related litigation.

Five years ago, Kessler crafted an extremely viable antitrust lawsuit against the NFL for the lockout that was imposed after the union decertified. The verdict, if a season had been lost due to a lockout later deemed to be illegal, would have been staggering. To get there, however, players had to be willing to sit out a full season -- and not nearly enough were interested in doing that.

In this case, the women’s team can continue to play for whatever pay U.S. Soccer will give them. Then, at some point, they could end up getting a lot more to supplement the pay they should have been getting all along.