Adidas announced Friday that it will pay players it sponsors on the winning Women’s World Cup team the same performance bonus that it pays male champions.
The pledge from Eric Liedtke, the athletic apparel company’s head of global brands, came on the same day that members of the U.S. women’s national team filed a gender discrimination suit against U.S. Soccer, claiming the national federation pays players on the women’s team less than their male counterparts and subjects them to more dangerous playing conditions.
The complaint, which seeks class-action status to allow former players to join the litigation, alleges U.S. Soccer “utterly failed to promote gender equality” and that federation officials have “gone so far as to claim that ‘market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men.’ "
According to the suit, a comparison of pay schedules for the teams shows that if each played 20 exhibition games in a year, a player on the men’s team could earn an average of $263,320, while women’s players could earn a maximum of $99,000.
“We believe in inspiring and enabling the next generation of female athletes, creators and leaders through breaking barriers,” Liedtke said in a tweeted statement. “Today we are announcing that all Adidas athletes on the winning 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup team will receive the same performance bonus payout as their male peers.”
It is unclear how much Adidas’s performance bonuses are worth or how many American players are eligible because they carry Adidas sponsorship.
The U.S. women’s team has dominated on the international stage in recent decades and is the favorite to win this year’s World Cup, which begins in June in France. The American women won the World Cup in 1991, 1999 and 2015, and they did not finish worse than third in that span. The men’s team has never won the tournament and did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Will Hobson contributed to this report.
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