Comment: Jennifer C. Braceras – Soccer Rapinoe Is Not A Pay Inequity Victim


The players of the United States women’s national football team are paid more than their counterparts on the men’s team. But Megan Rapinoe isn’t letting the facts get in the way of her PR campaign to pressure the United States Football Association to raise her salary.

In March, the gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion complained to Congress and President Joe Biden of being a victim of pay discrimination. She is also taking her case to the court of public opinion in a new “LFG” documentary on HBOMax.

Unfortunately for Rapinoe, the only court to rule on the case found her claims insufficient.

In 2019, Rapinoe and his teammates sued the USSF in federal court in California, claiming more than $ 66 million in damages for wage discrimination and discriminatory working conditions. The court found sufficient evidence to allow the players to pursue their claims regarding unequal travel and accommodation costs, medical support, training and other support services. But he dismissed allegations of salary discrimination against players, believing the women’s team won more than the men’s team on a cumulative and per game basis.

It turns out the National Women’s Team won around $ 24 million in total; the men’s national team won just $ 18 million. The average catch per game was $ 220,747 for the women’s team, compared to $ 212,639 for the men’s team. And while individual complainants earned an average of $ 11,356 to $ 17,416 per game, the top four male players earned an average of $ 10,360 to $ 13,964 per game.

Facts are stubborn things. So Rapinoe and his teammates argued that even though they received more money than their male counterparts, they were nonetheless discriminated against. Why? Because they would have earned even more if they had been paid according to the men’s salary structure, which offers higher bonuses.

The Men’s Team Collective Agreement is an incentive and paid contract, under which only players selected for particular training camps or competitions have a chance to earn bonuses. The court found that the women’s team had in fact rejected an offer to be paid according to the same structure as the men, opting instead for a higher base salary and greater stability in the form of annual salaries, paid independently. training camps followed or matches played. .

Late last year, the plaintiffs and the USSF settled the unequal working conditions portion of the case, with the federation agreeing to provide the players with travel arrangements, hotel rooms, staff and sites tied with male athletes. Good for the women’s team. They deserve it. And that should be the end of the matter.

In America today, however, victim status is the coin of the kingdom. And so Rapinoe and his merry band of warriors fight, addicted to fame, praised by celebrities like Jamie Lee Curtis and politicians like Vice President Kamala Harris, and feted by the elites of Hollywood and Washington.

In April, the players appealed the trial court’s decision on wage discrimination to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, pressuring the USSF to arbitrate the unfounded claims before the Summer Olympics in Japan. And earlier this month, 13 Democratic senators sponsored a bill to withhold federal funds from the 2026 FIFA World Cup unless the USSF increases the salary of the women’s team. If enacted, the Give Our Athletes Level Salaries (GOALS) law would prohibit funding for USSF, FIFA and host cities and state or local organizations assisting in the event, which is expected to be jointly hosted by states. United, Canada and Mexico.

Will the USSF capitulate to Rapinoe’s demands to avoid a sideshow in Tokyo next month and avoid losing its World Cup funding? Very probably.

But don’t be fooled by Megan Rapinoe: a victim of gender discrimination, she isn’t.

Jennifer C. Braceras is director of the Independent Women’s Law Center and a former member of the United States Civil Rights Commission. She wrote this for

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