The judge ruled last spring that the women’s team had not been discriminated against because they agreed to a different contract structure, and that their claim was undermined by the fact that they had ultimately been paid more than male players. But the men’s team called the ruling “flawed” and “oversimplified,” saying that the court had wrongly ignored the fact that the women’s pay relied on their performance, not just the number of games they played.
The men’s team argued that, contrary to the judge’s ruling, the women had been “pressured” to accept “an unfair and unequal" collective bargaining agreement.
When the women’s agreement was negotiated, the brief claims, the men were “stunned” that U.S. Soccer had not agreed to offer them equal pay, refusing to even meet the terms of the contract the men had negotiated six years earlier.
“The women deserved better from the Federation — and a lot more money," the men’s team lawyers wrote in the brief.
In a statement, U.S. Soccer said the organization was "firmly committed to equal pay, just as the members of our senior national teams are. We will continue working with both our Men’s and Women’s National Teams to equalize FIFA prize money and to chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world.”
The men’s team is in the midst of bargaining their own contract with U.S. Soccer. Its brief in the women’s case also makes arguments that would benefit male players — including arguing that U.S. Soccer abuses its power to depress both national teams’ wages, and that it has failed share its burgeoning wealth with either of its national teams.
But the men’s filing goes far beyond those arguments to side with the women’s team on virtually every aspect of their equal pay appeal, arguing U.S. Soccer “has persistently treated the women as second class throughout the 35-year history of the Women’s National Team.”
The women’s team’s appeal is likely to drag out for months, with U.S. Soccer set to file a response to the players’ arguments in September. But despite their initial legal victory over the women’s team, U.S. Soccer has faced heavy criticism in public, including from Democrats in Washington, who have threatened to withhold funding for the 2026 Men’s World Cup unless the federation pays the women equally.