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Women US Soccer Players Sue for Equal Wages

 
 
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 06:50 am
@neptuneblue,
This is a question of economic reality versus gender "fairness".

Economic reality will win in the end. It always does.
neptuneblue
 
  0  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 06:54 am
@maxdancona,
And that's why it's going to Court.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 06:57 am
@neptuneblue,
Do you want to make a prediction?

I don't think the women will win... and if they do, I think you will see a split of US Soccer into separate organizations for men's and women's soccer. I also think the women's legal team knows that they will probably not win, they are putting political pressure far more than legal pressure (which is OK for them).

I think a compromise with equal base salaries with a percentage of revenue is a likely outcome. This will still mean the men are paid significantly more than the women.

I think the most likely outcome is that the women will lose the lawsuit.
neptuneblue
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 07:03 am
@maxdancona,
I've noticed you haven't backed up your figures. I think you don't know what you're talking about, and spew about the legalities of a court case you know absolutely nothing about.

So there's my prediction. You'll keep going at it so you can feel like your posturing is relevant.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 07:04 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
and if they do, I think you will see a split of US Soccer into separate organizations for men's and women's soccer.
Which would be a stupid idea, since then they would be alone, outside FIFA, at least as long as no other nation makes such a split as well, and a new world football association is founded (which may then have 'soccer' in the name of it).
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 07:13 am
@Walter Hinteler,
How do other countries deal with the pay of men's soccer vs women's soccer?

Are we the only country with this issue?
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 07:33 am
@maxdancona,
Players (here in Germany and most other countries I know of) are paid by their clubs.
They (and the clubs) get a certain amount of money from the national football association when playing in national teams. Women less then men - they earn less in their clubs, too (many - even in the higher leagues' clubs - are just semi-professional, most still amateurs).
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 09:06 am
@Walter Hinteler,
That is kind of the same as having different organizations for men and women (at least as far as finances). The US is different because we don't have the club system meaning that the finances are handled by a singular entity. The economically rational way to handle this is to separate the men from the women financially and let each stand on their own.

With gender politics in the US, people often confuse equality of opportunity with equality of results. I don't know if other countries do the same.


0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 09:15 am
The law that the team sued under says that you cannot pay unequal salaries for equal work based on gender, race, etc. This means that the market value of a person is not a factor. This makes sense because market value is often depressed by discrimination. A woman as a teacher in the 70's had very little other opportunity for employment other than teaching and nursing. If you based school salaries on market value, you would be justified in paying women teachers less than men because men had many more job opportunities even though the women had less opportunity because of discrimination. You could use the same argument with black baseball players in the 60's. The movie "Battle of the Sexes" tells the story of the start of the women's circuit in tennis and the institutional resistance to paying women equal purses even though they brought in equal ticket sales and attention. (The tennis match between King and Riggs is interesting and all, but the efforts made by promoters to devalue women's tennis which is briefly shown in the movie is fascinating reading.)

From the complaint filed by the players, I've extracted my high points. There's a lot more there if you are interested.
Quote:
The USSF is the common employer of the players on the WNT and the MNT. It centrally manages and controls every aspect of the senior national team program for both teams and their female and male members. This includes, for example, selecting and hiring their members as employees; setting and providing them with their pay; hiring their coaches, trainers, nutritionists, doctors, massage therapists, administrators and other staff people; deciding the number of games the employees play, the location of games, the opponents for games, the tournaments in which they participate, and nature, timing and funding for promotion of the games; determining the surface of the fields on which their employees play; scheduling times and locations for training camps; granting access to practice fields, locker rooms and exercise equipment during camps; setting ticket prices for home games; and deciding whether to charter a flight for employees or require they travel commercially for games. Every aspect of the players’ employment on both teams is commonly controlled by and dictated by the USSF, as the common employer. This centralized management and control has permitted the USSF to perpetuate gender-based discrimination against Plaintiffs and the class they seek to represent in nearly every aspect of their employment.


Statement on USSF profit from the lawsuit
Quote:
For example, for FY2016 (April 1, 2015-March 31, 2016), the USSF budgeted a combined net loss for the national teams of $429,929. But thanks largely to the success of the female players on the WNT, the USSF revised its projections upward to include a $17.7 million profit. The net profit for the WNT outstripped net profit for the MNT because the female players on the WNT were more successful in competition than the male players on the MNT – while being paid substantially less.


The women actually work more than the men (emphasis mine)
Quote:
In light of the WNT’s on-field success, Plaintiffs often spend more time practicing for and playing in matches, more time in training camps, more time traveling and more time participating in media sessions, among other duties and responsibilities, than similarly situated MNT players. For example, from 2015 through 2018, the WNT played nineteen more
games than the MNT played over that same period of time. As the MNT averaged approximately seventeen games per year in that time frame, the WNT played the equivalent of more than one additional MNT calendar year season from 2015 through 2018. The USSF, nevertheless, has paid and continues to pay Plaintiffs less than similarly situated MNT players.


Key line from the complaint the works for me. If the USSF could say the women bring in less money they might have an argument similar to the WNBA/NBA argument. They can't say that.
Quote:
The USSF has no legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for this gross disparity in pay, nor can it be explained away by any bona fide seniority, merit or incentive system or any other factor other than sex.


The bias also extends to playing conditions. Again highlighting mine. The USSF goes out of it's way to protect the men with grass overlays while not bothering for the women. I can't see any argument that says the men need grass but the women don't when it is both a health and quality of play concern.
Quote:
For example, the USSF has complete control over the surfaces, i.e., grass, grass overlay or artificial surfaces such as turf, on which the national teams play their home matches. Playing on inferior surfaces, including artificial turf, can lead to significant, career-threatening injuries. Such surfaces also affect fundamentals of the games, including the way the ball bounces and how the ball can be struck. At times relevant hereto, the USSF subjected Plaintiffs and similarly situated current and former WNT players to matches on inferior surfaces at a rate far in excess of that required of MNT players. For example, from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2017, the
WNT played 62 domestic matches, 13 (21%) of which were played on artificial surfaces. During that same period of time, the MNT played 49 domestic matches, only 1 (2%) of which was played on an artificial surface. During this same time period, the USSF arranged for natural grass to be
installed temporarily over artificial surfaces for 8 MNT domestic matches, including 3 venues where the USSF did not temporarily install natural grass when the WNT played in those same venues
.


Why would the men and women get different flight options?
Quote:
The USSF has complete control over whether it requires WNT and MNT players to take commercial flights or chooses to charter flights for the teams. Charter flights provide for more physical comfort, less risk of lost baggage or missed connections and better opportunity for rest before and after games, among other benefits. The USSF provides the MNT with the benefit of charter flights more frequently than it does for the WNT. In 2017, for example, the USSF chartered flights for the MNT on at least seventeen occasions, while failing to do so even once for the WNT.


The USSF doesn't even promote the WNT the same way even though they are a huge draw, then they try to use the lack of attendance and ticket revenue to justify lower pay.
Quote:
The USSF has complete control over the timing and manner of and
resources it devotes to promote national team games. Among other things, the USSF has allocated less resources promoting WNT games than it has allocated promoting MNT games; has not announced WNT games with sufficient notice to allow for maximum attendance; and has not used all available means to promote WNT games in a manner at least equal to MNT games. ...

In December 2017, the former President of Soccer United Marketing –
the for-profit marketing company the USSF has used for many years to market the national teams and other soccer entities – acknowledged that the WNT has been under-marketed. ...

The USSF further continues to discriminate against Plaintiffs and similarly situated WNT players by having set ticket prices to the WNT games at a
lower price than for MNT games. The USSF’s unilateral decision to set such lower ticket prices, coupled with its decision to provide substantially less marketing and promotion support to the WNT, results in USSF-manufactured revenue depression for the WNT, which is then used as pretext for lower compensation for Plaintiffs.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 09:50 am
@engineer,
My understanding is that the legal argument is going to revolve around whether woman's soccer is "equal work" to men's soccer.

First let me poke holes in a couple of your arguments...

1) The market value of a person is clearly relevant to their salary. Tom Brady earns more than some random linesmen or even other quarterbacks. People get paid according to their market value.

2) The racial issue in sports was solved by combining racial leagues to create one single professional league (there isn't a Black NFL or a White NFL), it is just the NFL and all the players compete for salary on mostly equal terms. Unless you think we can get rid of the woman's league and have everyone complete on equal terms, this isn't a good comparison.

3) Soccer players get paid based on physical ability; how fast they can run, how hard they can kick, how high they can jump. Women do not have the same level of physical ability that men do. The comparisons of how women succeed playing against other women are really irrelevant. Men's teams are better (i.e. head to head they would win handily).

I think that the USSF will argue, successfully, that US woman's soccer is not played at the same level as US men's soccer.

I think they will win the legal case.

I think the political case is going to damage them.

I think the economic reality makes this impossible.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 11:21 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

My understanding is that the legal argument is going to revolve around whether woman's soccer is "equal work" to men's soccer.

That is the only response USSF has. I can't see them successfully arguing any other position
maxdancona wrote:

1) The market value of a person is clearly relevant to their salary. Tom Brady earns more than some random linesmen or even other quarterbacks. People get paid according to their market value.

This is not true for the national team. USSF has a complete monopoly on participation on the national team. All players get the same salary (different for men than women). The law in question here says that you cannot discriminate based on gender among other criteria for people doing the same job so I cannot hire male welders at one salary and female welders at another if they are doing the same job. This is especially true if I am the only employer of welders in the area. The USSF will argue that if you look at the world in general, male soccer players earn more than women so they are justified in paying less even if they do the same work and even if that disparity is due to its lack of promotion. The law says in the US you can't do that.
maxdancona wrote:

2) The racial issue in sports was solved by combining racial leagues to create one single professional league (there isn't a Black NFL or a White NFL), it is just the NFL and all the players compete for salary on mostly equal terms. Unless you think we can get rid of the woman's league and have everyone complete on equal terms, this isn't a good comparison.

You make that sound so egalitarian. The sports leagues were dragged kicking and screaming into desegregation and often it boiled down to money and legal action (like the one happening here). I mentioned women's tennis which is the only place in major pro sports where women approach men in salary. In 1970, after boycotting the Pacific Southwest Championships (now called Indian Wells) due to lack of a even half way decent women's purse, the women were BANNED FROM PLAYING by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA). That went on for two years before the USLTA cracked because the women actually did bring in equal money, attendance and press as the men. For soccer, the women do more work (play more games, attend more pressers and clinics, travel more) and bring in more revenue. They are treated in an inferior manner, not just in pay, but in accommodations, work conditions and support.
maxdancona wrote:

3) Soccer players get paid based on physical ability; how fast they can run, how hard they can kick, how high they can jump. Women do not have the same level of physical ability that men do. The comparisons of how women succeed playing against other women are really irrelevant. Men's teams are better (i.e. head to head they would win handily).

That is just completely wrong. Athletes are not paid by their times in the 40, they are paid by their performance in the game they are playing. Hope Solo is acclaimed for stopping shots on goal, Alex Morgan is acclaimed for scoring them. No one asks or cares about how fast they run the 40 or how much they can bench press. The same is true for the guys. By your argument, Floyd Mayweather, considered by many to be the greatest boxer of all time, should get a small fraction of the pay a journeyman heavyweight gets. I mean at 150lbs, no one is saying Mayweather could compete well against heavyweights, right? So what if his boxing skills against the little guys was insane and he could haul in the pay per view market, they were little guys, right? The reality for the US National Teams is that men field a truly mediocre product, bring in mediocre revenue and get paid substantially better than the women who are one of the most successful US sports team in US history and bring in substantial money, publicity and influence to the USSF.
maxdancona wrote:

I think the political case is going to damage them.

That is the very exact argument made against the women tennis players in 1971, except it was made much more forcefully with economic penalties and social condemnation. It turns out the women made a good call. The USWNT made some of these points in 2016 when this complaint was first filed and they won the political case in spades so I think they are on solid ground here. (If you read back in this thread, even you agreed.) There are lots of parents of teen girl soccer players out there talking about this. If any of them disagree with the national team, I'll let you know after tonight's game.
maxdancona wrote:

I think the economic reality makes this impossible.

Again, see women's tennis. The women already bring in enough to pay for their salaries. If the USSF doesn't agree, all they have to do it agree to the revenue sharing proposal the women's union offered. That should completely answer your concern, right? If the women are paid strictly on what they bring in, no one can complain. Of course the USSF turned that down because they count on the revenue from the women to subsidize the men.
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 02:34 pm
@engineer,
1. I think the Boxing example hurts your case. A sport choosing to establish weight classes based on its own economic self interest is quite a bit different than a sport facing external pressures on how to manage its participants. The sport of Boxing established weight classes on its own based on what makes sense to the sport as shown by profit motive. It didn't have to be forced to do so. It is a natural economic win.

Other sports don't do the same thing when it doesn't make economic sense. Basketball greatly favors people who are tall, and yet players aren't segregated by height. Both of these are cases of people doing what economically favors them. These are examples of economic reality working out naturally.

2. When women's sports leagues compete on their own economic merits, they generate considerably less money then their male counterparts. This is true in basketball (NBA vs. WNBA). This is true in soccer (the woman's professional soccer league wasn't economically feasible). This is true in Tennis.

3. What happened in tennis is likely a special case. These big public tournaments are the main way that tennis players make money playing tennis (endorsement deals are a related issue). There is no professional tennis league, the way that there are basketball leagues. That makes tennis tournaments particularly susceptible to public pressure. The public can shame tournament operators, and sponsors. The premiere male tennis players don't have much to say about this and they can't go elsewhere.

I don't think you will see public pressure have the same impact in soccer. If the World Cup pays star male players less, they run the risk that the best players in the world will simply go elsewhere. The public wants to see Reynaldo, and Messi and Neymar far more than they want to see Hope and Solo. That is economic reality.

4. Even in tennis the economic reality wins out. The economic reality in tennis has been affected by public pressure, the prices are artificial. And yet Male tennis players still make considerably more than female tennis players. More telling is to look at the market value of tickets to see a tennis match. People see much more to see male players than they do to see female players.

The economic facts are unquestionable.


maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 12 Mar, 2019 03:35 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
If the women are paid strictly on what they bring in, no one can complain. Of course the USSF turned that down because they count on the revenue from the women to subsidize the men.


I believe that this is factually incorrect. There are a couple of years where the women have brought in more money than the men depending on how you count revenue (538 seems to imply that even in 2016, the men make more revenue from the World cup although the women added on with a successful victory tour). What matters is the revenue over the long term rather than an outlier from one or two exceptional years.

Do you have any data to support this claim? Can you show a period where the men's national team didn't bring in more revenue than the women over a 4 year cycle?

I also believe you are incorrect in your claim that all players on the USMNT make the same salary. There are mentions of "tier 1" players, but it is suprisingly hard to find this spelled out.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  3  
Reply Wed 13 Mar, 2019 11:47 am
Interesting facts and figures...

maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 13 Mar, 2019 12:00 pm
@McGentrix,
Yeah.... "market realities" is going to be the key phrase in the lawsuit.

Paying employees based on the revenue they generate over the long term is allowed under the law.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2019 08:59 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

1. I think the Boxing example hurts your case. A sport choosing to establish weight classes based on its own economic self interest is quite a bit different than a sport facing external pressures on how to manage its participants. The sport of Boxing established weight classes on its own based on what makes sense to the sport as shown by profit motive. It didn't have to be forced to do so. It is a natural economic win. Other sports don't do the same thing when it doesn't make economic sense.

You assert that weight classes in boxing are from economic self interest? Boxing weight classes were established in the 1800's and formalized in the early 1900's. Based on your argument, sports like wrestling with no economic incentives so to speak would not have weight classes at all. Weight classes were formed so that people with outstanding skill can demonstrate it on a level playing field
maxdancona wrote:

2. When women's sports leagues compete on their own economic merits, they generate considerably less money then their male counterparts. This is true in basketball (NBA vs. WNBA). This is true in soccer (the woman's professional soccer league wasn't economically feasible). This is true in Tennis.

In the case of basketball that is true, but it is also a self fulfilling situation. Men's sports have decades of evolution building a fan base and because of that have developed huge opportunities. In soccer, the NWSL is generating a profit base which is pretty impressive given that they are pushing soccer in the US market. Moreover, the women generate interest and support for the men's league and the game in general. This isn't the win/lose scenario you present. In tennis, women's tennis stands alone and is completely profitable. I was at the qualification rounds for the Volvo Car Open last year and the stands were packed for qualification. The top women will sell out stadiums just as fast as the men, faster in countries where the men's game is underdeveloped. The top tennis figure in Japanese history is current #1 Naomi Osaka. No Japanese man has ever won a slam event. In China, it was Li Na before her retirement. Tennis is perhaps the one place where women's sport is promoted equally to the men's sport and as a result it has a thriving fan base.
maxdancona wrote:

3. What happened in tennis is likely a special case. These big public tournaments are the main way that tennis players make money playing tennis (endorsement deals are a related issue). There is no professional tennis league, the way that there are basketball leagues. That makes tennis tournaments particularly susceptible to public pressure.

That's exactly backwards from what actually happened. The women demanded equal pay, the tournament organizers and governing bodies told them to take a hike and they went and created their own events in direct competition to the established bodies (for which they were punished by the USLTA). There was no public pressure and several of the big names in the game (Chris Evert for one) denounced the move giving cover to the establishment. Yet the new tournaments sold out because people wanted to see the big names play and the old tournaments which went forward with their women's events with lower talent saw a huge fall in attendance and income. Your premise that the women do not put on a quality product and can only succeed through misguided public pressure is not supported by the facts. I sat in an empty stadium at the US Open and watched two top flight men battle it out. The reason the stadium was empty - a bigger name match between two women was going on next door. (I would have been next door also but my seats were just too good to give up.)
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2019 01:18 pm
@engineer,
I am making the case that the pay of soccer players on the woman's national team should depend mainly on economic reality. I am perfectly willing to state that if the market value of women's soccer is equal or greater than that of men's soccer, their pay should be equal or greater than that of male players. To me, the issue is market conditions.

I am not quite sure what you are arguing. If the facts show conclusively that woman's soccer has a significantly lower market value... would you then accept that women should be paid less?

Or, are you arguing that the women should be paid equally to the men, no matter what, and that economic reality doesn't matter? In this case, the speculations you are making aren't really relevant. If that is the case I will point out your logical errors on tennis, and point out that the NWSL doesn't its woman players very well (but I don't think this argument is very interesting if we don't agree on the main point).

Measuring economic market value is well defined, and can be objectively measured (you just look at the prices on free markets). But, I don't think that is what what we are arguing about.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2019 02:17 pm
@maxdancona,
Quote:
If the facts show conclusively that woman's soccer has a significantly lower market value... would you then accept that women should be paid less?

Not really. All your data compares a fully fledged men's domestic and international league with a fly by night women's league. Women's soccer suffers from less promotion, less support and inferior playing conditions in the US. Internationally where all the support for men's soccer comes from, it is dramatically worse. In some countries, the women's national team receives no support at all so the market is completely suppressed. To make your case that women's soccer is not economically viable, you would have to spend a decade making equal investments in all areas including salaries to see how the public would respond to seeing two fully equal products. The public has never seen that, even in the US.

Forbes did a story and they said that basically, you have to pay men more or they just won't play. They have other options to play soccer for more money. This is part of your "economics is all" argument. It also is why the women have trouble fielding a better product. In the 60's, football players had jobs in the off season because they didn't get paid all that much. When you pay them a full salary, suddenly they can focus on their sport all year round. How many excellent women who might be solid pro players but not the best 24 in the country have to give up soccer because they can't make a living? The NWSL minimum salary is $15,750, the max is $44,000. Given the team salary caps, the average salary is under $20,000 so they would easily qualify for food stamps. It's a circular argument: Women don't have any options -> they deserve less pay -> they have a weaker league -> they bring in less money -> they deserve less pay.

The women have proposed to the USSF that they be paid on a revenue sharing program where the players receive a portion of all proceeds. Other sports leagues do this, so it's not unheard of. Does that work for you?
maxdancona
 
  -1  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2019 02:54 pm
@engineer,
Quote:
To make your case that women's soccer is not economically viable, you would have to spend a decade making equal investments in all areas including salaries to see how the public would respond to seeing two fully equal products. The public has never seen that, even in the US.


I just want to get the principle straight...

If we did this hypothetical experiment, and after "a decade making equal investments in all areas including salaries to see how the public would respond to seeing two fully equal products" men still drew in significantly more revenue then the women... would you change your mind?

You are speculating (without any evidence) that this would be the case. I think it is wishful thinking on your part (the world doesn't always work the way we think it should).

But does it matter? If we somehow did the experiment, and you turned out to be wrong, would you then accept that male soccer players should make more than women?
engineer
 
  0  
Reply Thu 14 Mar, 2019 08:22 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I just want to get the principle straight...

If we did this hypothetical experiment, and after "a decade making equal investments in all areas including salaries to see how the public would respond to seeing two fully equal products" men still drew in significantly more revenue then the women... would you change your mind?

Yes, that would be a meaningful experiment on the order of tennis. Tennis took more like four decades to get close to parity in treatment, but a decade would work for me.
maxdancona wrote:

You are speculating (without any evidence) that this would be the case. I think it is wishful thinking on your part (the world doesn't always work the way we think it should).

I am hypothesizing using tennis as an example and the enthusiasm for the USWNT among soccer players and parents to inform my hypothesis. I agree that you and I have polar opposite opinions on how the world should be. Like you, I think I am right, but until we do the experiment, we won't know.

One easy solution would be for the USSF to completely divest itself of the USWNT and all interest in women's soccer. A new governing body would form whose only mission is the promotion of the women's soccer and the national team so there would be no conflict. Of course, for this to truly succeed, FIFA would have to do the same internationally. A second option would be for the USSF to agree to the proposal from the women's soccer union to enter into a profit sharing agreement. The players would have a significant stake in promoting the game and the USSF can avoid the entire issue.
 

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