• Didn’t See that Coming: U.S. Soccer Prez Drops a Bomb on the “Equal Pay” Flap

    Summary Surge: President of the U.S. Soccer Federation issues an open letter addressing and refuting the women’s soccer pay inequality charge – but don’t expect it to end to squabble.

    Remember the great “pay equality” controversy of two/three weeks back? The one involving the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team vs. the sports world’s powers-that-be?

    Well … new developments!

    President of the United States Soccer Federation Carlos Cordeiro has released an “open letter”, updating what the USSF has concluded regarding the contretemps.

    One observer greeted the news with this preface: “This should end the conversation…. But it won’t. Once again those stubborn little facts interfere with the narrative the left tries to paint!”

    Cordeiro strikes me as an adult; an individual with some sense of general propriety, so he begins his missive cheering the women’s squad and its unprecedented dominance on the soccer pitch, denominating them

    an inspiration to us all and truly some of the greatest athletes that our nation has ever produced.

    Then, continuing …

    As you know, the women’s victory on the field also came several months after the team filed a lawsuit concerning the pay they receive from the Federation.  When the lawsuit was filed, we made a deliberate decision—instead of debating the facts in the media in the lead-up to the World Cup, we would focus on providing the team with everything they needed to win in France.  Indeed, we spared no expense in our support of the team—support they deserve—including chartered flights, world-class training facilities, a tireless coaching and support staff and unprecedented promotion and marketing.

    See? Classy, gracious, appropriate considering what is supposed to be the focus of all this business: an athletic event. (As an aside, it’s a respectful tone abysmally lacking in, seems like, about everything in today’s rumbustious, high-profile culture.)

    I wrote in my open letter in March after the lawsuit was filed 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.  Moreover, it should be a basic principle everywhere in our country—equal work deserves equal pay.  In the case of our men’s and women’s national teams, they have different pay structures, not because of gender, but because each team chose to negotiate a different compensation package with U.S. Soccer.  Separately, FIFA competitions for men and women include a different number of games each year, at different times, in different locations, against different opponents with different FIFA rankings and different tournaments with different qualifying criteria and different prize money.  Yet even with these many differences, U.S. Soccer strives to ensure that all our national team players, women and men, are paid fairly and equitably.

    Zoinks! Get a load of a key concept in his explanation: “different”, “differences”. Are there differences in life? Between people? Are we allowed to tip our hats to that reality any longer? Who knows what it might lead to: next thing you know we’ll be suggesting boys and girls are different! Men and women, too!

    The team’s lawsuit has also contributed to an important and necessary national discussion about equality.  This is a conversation that U.S. Soccer welcomes.  Even as we’re proud of our record as a champion for women’s soccer, we always strive to do even better.  If we find areas where we can improve, we’ll work to do so in close partnership with our Women’s National Team.

    Senor Cordeiro is transparently herniating himself to be civil, even-handed. Then, he cuts to the chase:

    [T]here’s been confusion about what our women’s and men’s players are actually paid by U.S. Soccer …

    Now that the Women’s World Cup is behind us, a common understanding of key facts will also help advance our shared work to grow women’s soccer in America as well as the larger national discussion about equality.

    At my request, U.S. Soccer staff conducted an extensive analysis of the past 10 years of U.S. Soccer’s financials.

    He emphasizes, “this analysis … has been reviewed by an independent accounting firm.”

    The investigation’s conclusion?

    [S]eparate and apart from any prize money awarded by FIFA—U.S. Soccer has, over the past decade, paid our Women’s National Team more than our Men’s National Team in salaries and game bonuses, and we continue to make unprecedented investments in our women’s program.

    Wait, what? (Cue sound of needle screeching across record album … .)

    Women competitors have been paid more than the Men’s National Team over the past ten years? Now there’s a headline …

    For good measure, the sixty-three-year-old heaps on another helping of humility:

    Still, like any organization, U.S. Soccer recognizes that we can continue to improve, in partnership with our women’s players.  In the weeks ahead, we’ll focus on preparing for mediation and resolving this matter in the best interests of the WNT and U.S. Soccer.  I want you to know that U.S. Soccer is committed to doing right by our players, and I’ve been encouraged by the public comments from players expressing their desire for a cooperative approach.  I remain optimistic that we can find common ground.

    He reflects,

    More broadly, we look forward to working with the team to bring soccer to more people in more places than ever before … with the mission of making soccer the preeminent sport in the United States by developing players, coaches and referees at all levels, including youth. [emphasis added]

    So, youth are in the mix here? Someone might want to keep that in mind whenever women’s Co-Captain Megan Rapinoe steps in front of a microphone, essaying to speak her mind.  Keep a finger on the “bleep” button.

    Cordeiro then goes all Adam-Smith/free-market/capitalism on the readers.

    Ultimately, the best way to close any gaps between the women’s and men’s game is to do everything we can—as a federation and as fans—to grow women’s soccer, here in the United States and globally. … Here in the U.S. and around the world, the more tickets to women’s matches we buy and the more games we watch on TV, the more revenue we can generate for the women’s game, including FIFA prize money.  That, we believe, is the best and most sustainable path to true and lasting equality.

    We look forward to the day when Americans choose to spend their time and money equally between women’s and men’s soccer.  At U.S. Soccer—in partnership with you—we’ll never stop doing our part to make that vision a reality.

    Fans’ “time and money” devoted equally between guys’ and gals’ matches, huh? A noble objective Mr. President, truly. Your dedication is admirable. But have you heard of the WNBA? Women’s softball? Re the popularity of the ladies’ soccer ever catching up to the dude’s exhibitions? I wouldn’t hold my breath, sir. Once more, it’s largely about that “differences” thing you courageously recognize.

    Meanwhile, the soccer world doubtless awaits Megan Rapinoe’s equally mature and dignified response, sans the f-bombs, please.

    That bit about not holding your breath? It applies there, as well.

     Image: Adapted from: by WikiImages from Pixabay 

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