After getting off to a tough start at the Tokyo Olympics, the US Women's National Team (USWNT) are headed to the semifinals. Their quarterfinal match against the Netherlands came to a thrilling conclusion in penalty kicks, but their victory on the field isn't the only thing making headlines. As the team continue their appeal for equal pay and an ongoing court case against US Soccer, they've acquired a very public ally: the US Men's National Team (USMNT).
As the Olympic quarterfinal unfolded, the Associated Press reported that the players of the USMNT had filed an amicus brief in the case currently in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals. The USWNT have asked to have their wage claims reinstated after initially being thrown out by a district judge in Los Angeles. In the brief, the men's team strongly express their support.
"The United States Soccer Federation markets the United States men's and women's national teams under the slogan, 'One Nation. One Team.' But for more than 30 years, the federation has treated the women's national team players as second-class citizens, discriminating against the women in their wages and working conditions and paying them less than the men's national team players, even as U.S. Soccer has enjoyed a period of extraordinary financial growth," the brief begins.
The Athletic reported that later in the filing, the players of the USMNT seem to suggest that, based on the recent results of both the men's and women's teams, the women deserve better pay than the men, not just equal.
"The federation has spent more than three decades treating the women as an afterthought, discriminating against them through inferior wages and working conditions, and forcing the women to struggle for the equal pay and fair treatment they deserve," the brief argues. "The District Court's oversimplified math made the women victims both of their own success and of the men's atypical struggles in 2017-2018. A woman's rate of pay is not equal to a man's if the woman must consistently achieve better outcomes merely to get to the same place."
It remains to be seen what effect this filing will have on the USWNT's ongoing case; the appeals process still has months to go before oral arguments will likely be heard. It does, however, put even more pressure on US Soccer, which has already faced mounting public and political criticism over its stance on equal pay for the women's team. For now, this filing is a strong statement of solidarity between the two national teams as the USWNT continue their public fight for equality.