USWNT lawsuit against USSF for getting paid less than USMNT

Discussion in 'USA Men: News & Analysis' started by Jazzy Altidore, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

    Jan 18, 2003
    Rochester, NY
  2. Editor In Chimp

    Editor In Chimp Member+

    Sep 7, 2008
    Honestly, your last sentence kind of articulated how I feel about it far better than I was able to. Good post.
     
  3. Jazzy Altidore

    Jazzy Altidore Member+

    Sep 2, 2009
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    While the vocal minority may favor the women, the majority will favor the simple logic that male athletes who generate more revenue should fairly be paid more than female athletes who generate less revenues.
     
    DHC1 repped this.
  4. superdave

    superdave Member+

    Jul 14, 1999
    Raleigh
    Club:
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is terribly wrong. The Fed is obviously not a capitalist business. It’s a non profit. It doesn’t expect its various divisions to turn a profit. Its charter and mission aren’t capitalist. Wrong wrong wrong.

    And this is the moral argument that keeps gnawing at me. From my reading the women’s arguments are mostly a mix of nonsense, virtue signaling and trickeration. The only strong argument to me is to get completely away from the earnings question. Again, IANAL, but to win the case they have to define the relevant comparable as senior international soccer. That’s the only universe in which they have any case of gender discrimination.

    I’m not sympathetic to the women at all. I’m very turned off by their attempts to sell selfishness as altruism. But this is the one argument I don’t have a good answer to.

    They represent US soccer in the exact same manner as the men. Why aren’t they treated the same. I guess the Fed would point out that FIFA sets the prize money at very different levels, and that drives the USSF’s actions.

    Thoughts?
     
  5. puttputtfc

    puttputtfc Member+

    Sep 7, 1999
    They do not represent US soccer in the exact same manner. The USWNT are guaranteed their jobs while the men have no guarantee.
    (insert Michael Bradley joke here) MLS and European based players are not legally shut out of the USMNT while their female counterparts in NWSL and around the globe are shut out.
     
    superdave repped this.
  6. Jazzy Altidore

    Jazzy Altidore Member+

    Sep 2, 2009
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You should just cut all your sentences off at IANAL instead of trying to play one on BigSoccer.

    You misunderstand the concept of a non-profit. There is no law or policy against a non-profit operating at a revenue surplus above operating costs, i.e., a profit. A non-profit status is simply a tax designation meaning that profits do not accrue to shareholders; they accrue to the entity itself in service of the non-profit's mission, thus obtaining tax-exempt status.

    Your type of thinking would in fact doom a non-profit because if it did not maintain fiscal responsibility it would bleed itself into nonexistence. In contrast, only a non-profit that in fact sees the need to operate on a revenues above costs basis (in the long run) will be able to sustain itself and meet its public service goals.
     
  7. puttputtfc

    puttputtfc Member+

    Sep 7, 1999
    This is soccer in the US. The majority has no idea what a Tobin Heath or Tyler Adams is.
     
  8. DHC1

    DHC1 Member+

    Jun 3, 2002
    NYC
    SD,

    Because an entity is classified as non-profit doesn’t mean that they’re not focused on maximizing the cash they bring in and limiting their expenses. For example, no -profits can and do spend money on fund-raising activities.

    Why do you think their argument should be uncoupled from the revenues they bring in? If they don’t cover their costs, it would seem that the most analogous comparison for the USWNT would be other cash-consuming programs that the USSF supports rather than cash generating ones.

    In other words, if the USMNT is viewed as a fund raising vehicle, the women’s team should either be viewed as such as well and directly comparable or should be looked at as an expense and kept separate from fundraising offsets.
     
    gunnerfan7 and Jazzy Altidore repped this.
  9. Baysider

    Baysider Member+

    Jul 16, 2004
    Santa Monica
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    But I think the reason the law was constructed that way was because of a sense that non-profits are different kinds of entities. In a narrow but real sense, MLS's objective is to maximize the value of MLS for its owners. This gives relatively clear guidelines to what it should do.

    On the other hand, the USSF has a pretty vague mandate, effectively to "promote" soccer in the US. Because of this, I think they have a responsibility to treat different parts of soccer in America fairly (in a way that MLS doesn't) - whatever fairly means. Legally, the non-profit status doesn't restrict them from doing much, but that's not the question. It's whether the impetus to set them up as a non-profit in the first place should provide a guide for their actions.

    That said, there are a lot of issues to disentangle and so a simple percentage-of-revenue rule for both the men and women seems a reasonable solution. Figuring that out will be hard enough.
     
  10. jond

    jond Member+

    Sep 28, 2010
    On My Squatty Potty
    Club:
    Levski Sofia
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I wonder what % of revenue from ticket sales from paying fans will go to the USSF defending itself from numerous lawsuits.
     
  11. gunnerfan7

    gunnerfan7 Member+

    SJ Earthquakes/Arsenal
    United States
    Jul 22, 2012
    Pleasanton, California
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Is the fact that the MNT is used to subsidize the WNT and the NWSL a "fair" solution? The TV rights, which are a consistent 50-ish million dollars/year, and the sponsorship dollars, are tied into both teams.

    So, in order to effectively implement a "percentage of revenue" model, you'd need to split the teams completely. Unless, of course, the goal is simply to take more than a "fair" share of money, which I think everyone knows is really the goal.

    In the WNT's TV tour of the news stations, a reporter asked if they would be okay with being paid in bonuses for game appearances, just like the Men. They said they needed the guaranteed salary because "...the market realities of Men's and Women's soccer means that's not possible, because it's more complicated than that...".

    Yikes.
     
  12. SamsArmySam

    SamsArmySam Member+

    Apr 13, 2001
    Minneapolis, MN
  13. Baysider

    Baysider Member+

    Jul 16, 2004
    Santa Monica
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Right, you would have to come up with some way of splitting up the revenue, but if not that, then what?

    But let me make a case for subsidizing the women. For a lot of girls out there, soccer is the primary team sport (of course, basketball and volleyball are also there, although I don't think they are as big as soccer). Being able to see a path from youth to college to pros to national team, and to be inspired by national team players, may be important for promoting girls soccer, even for girls who will never go beyond youth sports. How important? I don't know.

    But I think supporting the women's game is part of the mandate for the USSF even if these particular women are not very sympathetic.
     
  14. Chicago76

    Chicago76 Member+

    Jun 9, 2002
    There is no actual market. That is correct. But the issue is that the greater global market informs economic decisions. The decision to play or not play for a national team, provided a player has the requisite skill level, is not made in a vacuum, just as the decision to become a common burglar is not made in a vacuum. Those decisions, in aggregate, are dependent upon alternate sources of income, ie, player salaries for clubs.

    That's not to say that the relationship is one to one, but there is an element of bargaining power based upon club wages that factors into compensation decisions.

    At the end of the day, there is no obvious legal path to prove that women's and men's NT soccer are functionally the same sport requiring equitable compensation regardless of gender. If there was, then the women would never have settled for the CBA they did in the last negotiation.
     
  15. gunnerfan7

    gunnerfan7 Member+

    SJ Earthquakes/Arsenal
    United States
    Jul 22, 2012
    Pleasanton, California
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    There is no mandate for USSF to create a professional league. If you want to add such a mandate, then you need to base compensation on revenue-generation, just like any other business.

    This is, again, having your cake and eating it.

    As I believe I mentioned earlier in the thread (perhaps I deleted that part) I think the USSF spending money promoting the sport of soccer, particularly among youths, is perfectly good. The problem comes when they begin to start operating a business.

    Look at other "fringe" sports here in the USA, like rugby. The goal is not to create and run professional leagues in those sports. Not for the Men, not for the Women. In fact, the goal has always been to promote the sport at the youth levels in clubs and in universities.

    The WNT is basically saying, "please pour money into a losing investment, because we want it, and it's unfair that other people/leagues are more successful than us". The evidence/reasoning for USSF to do that is just not there.

    We saw that the NASL was somewhat successful in the USA for a brief time. That, and its tie-in to hundreds of millions of dollars associated with the '94 World Cup, was why the USSF wanted to help MLS to succeed. The WNT and NWSL specifically have a track record of multiple league failures. Outside of that, since there is no profitable professional Women's sports league in the USA, the evidence is even further stacked in the other direction.
     
    soccermilitant repped this.
  16. gunnerfan7

    gunnerfan7 Member+

    SJ Earthquakes/Arsenal
    United States
    Jul 22, 2012
    Pleasanton, California
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Actually, global club soccer is not a market economy either, at least in the traditional sense where rules are set by individual countries, because the entire professional soccer world rests on membership within FIFA. In order to be a professional soccer player at Juventus or the Las Vegas Lights, you need to fit within FIFA regulations.

    It's FIFA that is the ultimate governing body of professional soccer, both for club and country. They delegate responsibilities to each member Federation to deal with regarding their domestic leagues and players as they see fit. So long as the USSF doesn't run afoul of FIFA regulations, they can do whatever they want.
     
  17. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

    Jan 18, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    People think non-profit organizations exist to not make a profit and that is a huge mistake and wrong. In economic terms it still exists as capitalistic and must finds ways to drive revenue make a profit to extend its goals. It just means that 'it is an organization that uses its surplus of the revenues to further achieve its ultimate objective, rather than distributing its income to the organization's shareholders, leaders, or members.
     
    Quaker, DHC1 and Jazzy Altidore repped this.
  18. Jazzy Altidore

    Jazzy Altidore Member+

    Sep 2, 2009
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Not an insignificant amount. The antitrust case could easily cost USSF 5 million per year to litigate. As the parties get closer to trial and have to start paying economic experts, that number will only increase. I recently worked on a case where we paid an economist (and his team) $2 million through trial. But we won a damages award of more than $170 million so you could say it was money well spent.

    I would expect the women's case to be less expensive because an employment case is nearly always less complex and thus less costly to litigate than an antitrust case. Still the budget must at least be 1.5-2 million per year.
     
  19. Jazzy Altidore

    Jazzy Altidore Member+

    Sep 2, 2009
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Sure, non-profit are different types of entities. They must be constructed to serve the public interest in some way. But the USSF has extremely broad leeway to serve this interest in the way they please, and I do not believe that the USWNT would even have standing to challenge whether USSF is in fact furthering its cause. In any event, nothing here could legally implicate any wrongdoing (such as corruption or self-dealing) jeopardizing USSF's non-profit tax-exempt status, even if WNT were to win the case.
     
  20. Jazzy Altidore

    Jazzy Altidore Member+

    Sep 2, 2009
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Superdave feels free to spread misinformation and incorrect legal analysis so long as he prefixes it with "IANAL."
     
  21. Baysider

    Baysider Member+

    Jul 16, 2004
    Santa Monica
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    I agree in that I don't think highly of the lawsuit's chances (but IANAL ;) ) but, as the first part of your sentence suggests, paying the women "equally" (how ever defined) or even preferentially may be consistent with the USSF's interests.
     
  22. SUDano

    SUDano Member+

    Jan 18, 2003
    Rochester, NY
    But don't they the USSF decide what those interests are? If you have some good argument to that goal list them here. I am open to any and all arguments from both sides. I don't think the suit argues best interests but rather equal pay for equal work.
     
  23. Jazzy Altidore

    Jazzy Altidore Member+

    Sep 2, 2009
    Club:
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    #199 Jazzy Altidore, Mar 13, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2019
    It could but then the men could just as easily file a lawsuit for pay discrimination because being a non-profit does not exempt a company from all of the typical employment laws. Otherwise USSF could simply say that paying the men more or preferentially is consistent with USSF's interests to avoid liability in the women's case. Among USSF's many defenses, this is not one.
     
  24. lmorin

    lmorin Member+

    Mar 29, 2000
    New Hampshire
    Club:
    --other--
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You are probably correct. However, if the USSF does NOT subsidize a women's soccer league and actively promote it, one or both of two things will happen. The women will have no place in the US to earn a salary playing professional soccer and/or the women's game in the US will deteriorate because there is no financial support for the non-stars.

    As is the case the world over, soccer in the US exists as a pyramid with the best players at the top. Once there, they can support themselves with a variety of incomes adding to a lot. It's the newcomers who will have huge difficulty surviving on the way to the top.

    So, the answer (IMHO) is for USSoccer to take as a responsibility of game promotion, support of the women's game and to do that in any manner consistent with the goal of developing the women's national team. Historically, USSoccer and the USSoccer Federation Foundation (created to spend the money generated from WC94, held in the US) spent a lot of money on the women's team and it has paid off handsomely.
     

Share This Page