(Reuters) – The U.S. men’s national team on Wednesday called on the U.S. Soccer Federation to at least triple the pay of women’s national team players and accused the federation of “working very hard to sell a false narrative” in opposing their quest for higher pay.
Last year, all 28 members of the U.S. women’s squad sued the governing body for soccer in the United States, alleging gender discrimination ahead of their successful World Cup title defense. A trial is scheduled for May.
The United States National Soccer Team Players Association, which has previously expressed support for the women’s team, called their 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement worse than the men’s labor deal that expired in 2018.
“What we believe should happen is simple. Pay the women significantly more than our recently expired men’s deal,” the USNSTPA said in a statement. “In our estimation, the women were due at least triple what our expired deal was worth in player compensation.”
It added: “The Federation has been working very hard to sell a false narrative to the public and even to members of Congress. They have been using this false narrative as a weapon against current and former members of the United States Women’s National Team.”
The U.S. Soccer Federation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to the USNSTPA, the women were aware that a work stoppage could have destroyed their third effort at a professional women’s league in the United States.
“We believe the Federation should have agreed to a deal directly tied to a fair share of the revenue players generate. That is what should have happened, based on the entire history of labor negotiations involving the men and women players and the Federation.”
The union called for an end to what it described as exploitation of athletes to generate revenues that are siphoned off to benefit owners, leagues and teams.
It also called on fans to take action until the U.S. Soccer Federation shows signs that is has heard the message and makes changes that benefit the players.
“Tell the Federation’s sponsors you will not support them until the Federation starts doing the right thing and gives the women a new CBA that pays a fair share of the gate receipts and that television and sponsorship revenue to the players,” the union said.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Dan Grebler