Tired of getting paid less than the men's team despite a much higher level of performance, five star soccer players from the U.S. Women's National Team are taking a stand off the field.
Attorneys for top players Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Rebecca Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan have filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming the women's team should be paid an equal amount as the U.S. Men's National Team.
"I think the timing is right,'' Lloyd told Matt Lauer in an exclusive TODAY interview Thursday. "I think that we've proven our worth over the years. Just coming off of a World Cup win, the pay disparity between the men and women is just too large. And we want to continue to fight."
When the USWNT won international soccer's most prestigious event, the World Cup, in 2015, the team earned $2 million in prize money that was given to the national federation to be distributed to the players and the organization. Meanwhile, the men's team, which lost in the World Cup's Round of 16, earned $9 million. The men's team that won the tournament, Germany, earned $35 million.
"I've been through numerous CBA negotiations, and honestly not much has changed,'' Solo said. "We believe now the time is right because we believe it's a responsibility for women's sports, specifically women's soccer, to really do whatever it takes for equal pay and equal rights and to be treated with respect."
The women also shattered ratings records for soccer games in America with a record 26.7 million tuning in to watch them beat Japan in the World Cup final. The women have won three straight Olympic gold medals as well as three World Cup titles overall, while the men have never won either.
"While we've not seen this complaint and can't comment on the specifics of it, we're disappointed about this action,'' the U.S. Soccer Federation said in a statement to TODAY. "We've been a world leader in women's soccer and are proud of the commitment we've made to building the women's game in the United States over the past 30 years."
"These women are very disappointed in U.S. soccer,'' their attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, told Lauer. "When they asked for the same treatment as the men, they were told it was irrational. Now that might be a good answer in 1816. It's not acceptable answer in 2016."
The complaint is the latest escalation between the players and the governing body, as the United States Soccer Federation and the union representing the USWNT are suing each other over the validity of a collective bargaining agreement signed in March 2013. At the heart of the matter is whether the players on the USWNT have the ability to go on strike before or during the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in order to have their demands for equality with the men met.
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