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U.S. Soccer stands ground in face of USWNT federal lawsuit against federation

68th FIFA Congress

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JUNE 13: President of the United States Football Association Carlos Cordeiro speaks during the United 2026 presentation to become the host for the 2026 FIFA World Cup during the 68th FIFA Congress at Moscow’s Expocentre on June 13, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said the federation was blindsided when, on March 9, the U.S. Women’s National Team players filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer itself.

In an open letter to fans, and likely, members of the USWNT, Cordeiro touted the financial investments U.S. Soccer has made in women’s soccer. This includes adding additional members to the USWNT technical staff, creating additional U.S. women’s youth national teams, and the creation of the SheBelievesCup. However, Cordeiro appears to have misunderstood, or refuses to understand, the underlying reasons behind the USWNT lawsuit. It’s related to the terms equal v. equatable.

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The USWNT players believe that U.S. Soccer is discriminating against their team on the basis of gender. For example, even though U.S. Soccer audits show that the USWNT earned more money in profit and revenue for the federation than their male counterparts over the past four years, the USWNT players are compensated well below the men’s team, per an article from Caitlin Murray on Yahoo!

In his open letter, Cordeiro stated that, “U.S. Soccer believes that all female athletes deserve fair and equitable pay, and we strive to meet this core value at all times.” In theory, if this belief was enacted, the USWNT players would be earning much more than their male counterparts, which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Even in its 2017 CBA with the USWNT, which both sides are reportedly not happy with, according to the New York Times, the USWNT players, which had earned more than the USMNT players in the past year, did not receive “equitable,” or fair compensation, in comparison to the USMNT.

Ultimately, it’s unclear whether the USWNT will succeed with their lawsuit. It’s reportedly a high bar to jump over to prove that U.S. Soccer intentionally discriminated against the USWNT due to their gender. But with all the smoke, allagations and proof that exists in the wildly different compensation structures, the USWNT does have an argument to make that they at the least deserve truly equal treatment with the USMNT, if not better.

Cordeiro closed his letter stating he’s had initial conversations with some veteran USWNT players (those players were not disclosed), and he’s looking forward to more discussions with the players to work out a deal. But if U.S. Soccer continues to fight over the equal v. equitable label, it’s unlikely there will be a lot of progress made.